PROPOSAL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARK NETWORK MECHANISM DESIGNED TO foster international PARTNERSHIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
17 April 2002, Beijing, China
A number of “Science and Technology Parks” have been developed around the world as a means of stimulating start-up and growth of technologically intensive, knowledge-based businesses, and of facilitating the links between the research and industrial communities. These are typically designed to serve: as an incubating base for private sector ventures; as a training base for persons with new, innovating skills; and as an experimental zone for new technologies.
Such Science and Technology Parks can be found throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries. An International Association of Science Parks (IASP) exists that has membership from 55 countries. In terms of the technology sectors, most of the existing Science and Technology Parks worldwide emphasize new and emerging technologies. According to worldwide statistics, 26 per cent are engaged in Information and Telecommunications Technologies, 20 per cent in Biotechnologies, 19 per cent in Electronics and Computers, 9 per cent in Agro-food, 8 per cent in Environmental Technologies, 6 per cent in new materials, and 5 per cent in pharmaceuticals. In terms of tenants in the existing Science and Technology Parks, 51 per cent are services companies, 26 per cent are research activities, and 18 per cent are industrial companies.
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In general, Science and Technology Parks have proved to be useful vehicles for research-industry interactions. Different Science and Technology Parks exhibit different characteristics due to the environments in which they are set up and the actors involved.
Rapid advances that are being made in new and emerging technologies in such fields as information, telecommunications, environment, clean energy, health, materials and transportation technologies, and the increasing pace of globalization are imposing a new social and ethical responsibility on the scientific and technological community to direct applications of these new developments in ways that strengthen efforts for achieving the objectives and goals of sustainable development.
This document outlines a proposal for the development of international partnerships through the Science-and-Technology-Park mechanism that will focus on science and technology innovations in pursuit of sustainable development. It will adopt a networking approach along the lines of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) with an international, rather than a national or local focus, and will be designed to pay particular attention to the science and technology needs of developing countries.
This proposal was discussed and shaped at the Beijing Forum on New and Emerging Technologies and Sustainable Development, held in Beijing, China, from 15 to 17 April 2002. Plans to proceed with the development of such an entity could be one of the concrete initiatives announced at the World Summit on sustainable development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, in late August and early September 2002.
Science and Technology Parks are a means of supporting a knowledge-based economy, and fostering market-oriented technological development. They typically accomplish this by bringing together academic, business and governmental organizations into one physical location, and supporting interrelationships between these groups through incentives established by governmental policies. Since academic institutions tend to draw technically qualified personnel to a particular region, locations immediately near these institutions become prime candidates for such parks.
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Two examples, from both the developed and developing world, are indicative:
• The University City Science Center in Philadelphia is owned by a consortium of more than thirty academic and scientific institutions. It is physically located immediately adjacent to both the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Established in 1963, it is both the oldest and largest urban research park within the US. More than two hundred technology and research-based organizations are located within the Science Center, and approximately 7,000 people are employed there. The Center was the world’s first business incubator, and has also been the most successful – it has launched approximately 250 private sector companies during the past three decades.
• In China, the Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park is the first state-level high-technology development zone. There are many research institutions and universities with within its borders, including Beijing University, Tsinghua University, and institutes of the Chinese Academy of Science. And also, around one third of the members of both the Chinese Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering can be found within the Science and Technology Park. The Science and Technology Park currently has five zones in which houses not only Chinese enterprises, but also local subsidiaries of internationally recognized firms such as IBM, Microsoft and Mitsubishi. In the Tenth Five-year Plan period (2001–2005), several major construction projects are being launched, including software, biotechnology/medicine, telecommunications and other high technology industries..
Both of these parks have developed and implemented a series of policies designed to provide assistance to fledgling enterprises and organizations, thereby laying an important foundation for establishing world-class science/technology entities. Such an approach could prove very useful in promoting much-needed new and emerging technologies for sustainable development, particularly for meeting needs in developing countries.
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Policies to Encourage Development
A number of policies can help foster such development, and these are particularly important if the park is located within a developing country. Amongst the most important are:
• International Economic and Technical Cooperation. To foster international efforts and attract science/technology companies from abroad, Science and Technology Parks often offer preferential treatment in certain areas. These might include: simplified corporate registration procedures; extensions of credit; multi-entry visas for technical personnel; and preferential siting for new facilities.
• The Attraction of Talent. Academic institutions might initially attract technical personnel, but the role of the Science and Technology Park is to keep them productively engaged, and to tap their technical skills for economic development purposes. Policies designed to do this often include special provisions for work permits for scientists and engineers returning from abroad, or for foreign technical specialists who will work in the Science and Technology Park. Also, policies often focus on economic attractions, research funding, subsidies, or specialized rights that enable intellectual workers to share in the economic returns of their companies.
• Protection of Intellectual Property Rights. If one expects individuals and organizations to display entrepreneurial skills, and devote considerable resources towards the development of new sustainable development technologies, then it is necessary to protect their intellectual property rights.
It is anticipated that all of these policies could be relevant for the development of a Science and Technology Park focusing upon sustainable development technologies in a developing county. As discussed below, the role of such policies will depend upon the site of the host country, as well as funding and other financial considerations.
In order to explore the viability of establishing a Science and Technology Park Mechanism to focus on international partnerships for sustainable development, the following tasks will need to be undertaken:
1. Review the Experience of Existing Science and Technology Parks
There are many different Science and Technology Park entities in many countries. Some of these operate as independent organizations, some are attached to municipal governments, and some have national and international ties. Moreover, some have a narrow “high-tech” focus, while others have a broader technological base. This task is designed to: review the nature of these various parks; identify their institutional and/or organizational structure; estimate their “success” in developing and fostering new technological entities; and determine what fraction of these activities might be considered relevant to international partnerships for sustainable development. From these analyses, the experience garnered in previous Science and Technology Park efforts can be utilized to help establish a new arrangement for sustainable development.
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2. Target Sustainable Development Technologies
While a wide range of technologies might be appropriate for sustainable development efforts, it may be appropriate for the Science and Technology Park to become more narrowly focused. Some existing Science and Technology Parks in developed countries have addressed solely the information and communications technologies (ICT).
It may be appropriate for the proposed entity to focus on clean energy technologies, eco-environment protection, cleaner production technologies, water efficiency technologies, agriculture, health issues, or other topics of immediate concern to developing countries. An analysis is to be conducted to explore the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach, based upon market analyses, commercialization potential, existing technological factors, etc.
3. Explore Potential of Opportunities for Fostering Partnership through the Science and Technology Park Mechanism
Such a Science and Technology Park network may be newly established with one of the parks playing a leading role. Interest in the prospective development of such a park is to be determined, and potential ties with existing programmes (e.g., with Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park in Beijing) explored.
4. Estimate Financial Needs and Develop Sustenance Programme
When a potential institutional arrangement for the network has been developed, the next step will be to estimate the financial needs necessary to establish the project, and to sustain its future efforts. As noted above, a wide range of models for the development of such parks exists, and the first task will be to help select a successful one for this effort. Given the international nature of this effort, comparable seed funding is required from multilateral international agencies or bilateral donors, as well as from private industry.
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5. Establish a Plan to Develop the Partnership through the Science-and-Technology-Park Mechanism
When these analyses have been completed, a development plan for the Science and Technology Park is to be produced, outlining: the location of the coordinating park; the nature of that facility; its technical focus; funding arrangements; financial viability; and short, medium and long term goals for new and emerging technological development. This plan should then become an instrument for promoting the role of business-science partnerships in utilizing new and emerging technologies for sustainable development – an important goal of both the Beijing Forum and the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
6. Disseminate Information on the Establishment of the Science and Technology Park
Information on this pilot development and on the establishment of the Science and Technology Park network for sustainable development is to be disseminated to worldwide potential partners and beneficiaries. Not only is this intended to promote their participation, but also to increase capacity building for the establishment of various other Science and Technology Parks for sustainable development, in particular for developing countries. The information dissemination is also designed to help establish an international network of Science and Technology Parks for sustainable development.