The value of Connect

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The concept of Science-Technology Park (PCT) originates at the beginning of the 50s of the 20th century. (Zhang, 2005) the best known example being the pioneering Stanford Research Park located in Palo Alto California, founded in 1951 (Carter, 1989; McQueen y Haxton, 1998, Xue, 1997). It is considered that this was the main trigger of the Silicon Valley paradigm: Stanford University was the facilitator of the generation of technology-based companies (EBT) through its graduates that allowed Silicon Valley to grow.

However, although Silicon Valley was considered a spontaneous cluster of high-tech companies and research institutions, Science and Technology Parks are entities that arise in a premeditated way and through a concrete implementation plan which involves the involvement of a group of agents from the innovation ecosystem of the territory where it is established. Julio Ondategui in his work “Science and Technology Parks: the new productive spaces of the future” delves into the origin of the PCT and places them between the poles of development of F. Perroux and the technopoles that currently rest on the concept of cross-fertilization.

There are several generations in the materialization of the concept of science and technology parks that have evolved based on the changing needs and priorities of the environment. The first generation of parks, which emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, focused primarily on providing space for research and development activities.for this reason they were called generation “Science Push”, that is to say, promote the results of market research. These early parks were often located on university campuses or near government research institutions.

Second generation parks, which began to appear in the 1970s, were designed to be more self-contained and include a broader range of facilities, such as office space, housing and retail. These parks often had a more pronounced focus on commercialization and were located close to major urban areas. This generation, “Market Pull”, it focused the growth of its ecosystems based on the needs of the market itself.

Third generation parks, which emerged in the 1990s, labeled as “Interactive-innovation”, were characterized by a greater emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. These parks often include incubation and acceleration programs, as well as resources and support for start-ups. PCTs are an ideal place to facilitate symbiotic synergies between the companies located in its area of ​​action, that is to say that the coopetition (cooperation + competition) of companies allows the generation of superior value, as well as their growth connected to the innovation ecosystem with the support of the main knowledge generators such as universities, thus improving their competitiveness.

Finally, the fourth generation parks, which emerged in the late 2000s, are characterized by the integration of smart and sustainable technologies, as well as the incorporation of a wide range of new “stakeholders”, in addition to the Academy, the industry, the government now includes the local community. The fourth generation Science and Technology Parks are articulated around the concept “The Lab – Hub”: a new perspective that requires an important mental change where co-creation and connectivity are central axes of their added value.

The PCTs have been the best representation of the axis that connects the elements of the Triple Helix model. (Etzkowitz y Leydesdorff, 1996; Etzkowitz,2007): University, Administration/Government, Companies, acting as facilitators of knowledge transfer processes and innovation generation during the first decades of its growth. In the last generation a new element has been incorporated: society, thus forming the so-called Quadruple Helix (Carayannis and Campbell, 2006).

The participation of the Society in co-creative processes (Citizen Science and LivingLabs) hand in hand with the main agents of the innovation ecosystem It allows to improve the socioeconomic wealth of the territories. The dynamism conferred by this type of mechanism turns Science and Technology Parks into Brownian agents of innovation in constant evolution.

I would dare to visualize a new generation of Science-Technology Parks, the fifth, where disruptive technologies (Quantum Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Blockchain, 5G, Big Data) will confer a new spatiotemporal dimension through commissioning of proof-of-concept demonstrators that will allow solving the most important technological challenges of today’s society.

*** Juan A. Bentolin he is manager of the General Foundation of the Universitat Jaume I and director of Espaitec, Parque Científico-Tecnológico.

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