9 - Networks, clusters and technology parks

9.5 - Creating local associative initiatives to promote Innovation (Technology Parks and techno-business incubators)


The integration of companies and universities in technology parks or techno-business incubators facilitates the configuration of a network with high potential for the generation of business opportunities and jobs which are focused on the acquisition of knowledge and the generation, transfer and commercialisation of technology. The concentration and interaction of Companies and Universities within the environment of a technology park usually adds status and reputation to an area which individual members would fail to attain by themselves. Science and technology parks generate the ideal conditions for the necessary interaction between innovative companies and knowledge generation centres. The new orientation of innovation towards networking and shared knowledge encourages a productive fabric which is more competitive and has greater access to cutting-edge technology.


Begbroke Science Park (Oxfordshire, United Kigdom)

Begbroke Science Park, which is associated with Oxford University, defines itself as "the place where science meets industry." Its main areas of research are transport materials (for the aerospace, automotive, marine and railway industries) and environmental sustainability (excessive use of natural resources, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change, etc.).

The cluster has successfully managed to combine the most academic aspects of learning and research with business and investment, and knowledge transfer and technology. Knowledge flows and companies which are created in Begbroke or have access to it benefit from all the prestigious privileges of being linked to Oxford University. Begbroke is thus a unique centre for technological excellence which is both multidisciplinary and research-oriented and offers researchers the opportunity to work directly with industry. On the other hand, institutional representatives and entrepreneurs are able to translate high-tech science into state-of-the-art, innovative, and commercial technologies.

Begbroke Science Park has created a Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which offers flexible office spaces and environments that can be easily adapted to a company’s specific needs. The centre promotes meetings and the creation of networks whilst offering high-tech knowledge-based companies, start-ups and spinoffs a unique environment to develop and expand their business. Its close ties with the University and its science and technology departments allows Begbroke Science Park to offer researchers and entrepreneurs an alternative way of accessing knowledge and technology, whilst helping them to understand the language used and actively encouraging them to develop dynamic partnerships.

GO:IN (Potsdam, Germany)

The GO:IN project started in Potsdam (Germany) and was backed by ERDF funds of some €74 million over 10 years (1997-2007). This investment has permitted the transformation of the Science Park in Potsdam-Golm into one of Germany’s pioneering centres for Innovation. It hosts three Max Planck Institutes, two Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Institutes, and a business incubator (GO:IN) as well as firms and businesses which focus on Innovation. The initial project began in 1993 and its main objective was to create a park which could integrate science and businesses together with technological and research facilities and competitive capacity thanks to research projects implemented by inter-institutional partnerships, spinoffs, technology transfer and knowledge of local and regional businesses.

In 1999, the Max Planck Institutes for gravitational physics, colloids and interfaces, and Molecular Vegetal Physiology opened their doors. These were followed in 2003 by the opening of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research and in 2006 by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering. Thanks to their role as intellectual breeding grounds, start-ups began to be created. Finally, the GO:IN (Golm Innovation Centre) was created to support technology transfer and collaborative work.

Inaugurated in 2006, the centre offers 4,000 m2 of office space, laboratories and storage facilities, and is equipped with all the necessary facilities and services (conference rooms, joint marketing and training services, etc.) to provide the ideal conditions to successfully start up a business. The strategic decision to concentrate specific research institutes next to universities has meant that the research cluster has gained considerable international renown in less than a decade. There are currently more than 1,500 scientists working in the park and some 7,700 students have passed through the centre.

According to Rainer Wetzler (Cavira Biopharmaceuticals AG), "we joined GO:IN a year ago because it offered us the optimum conditions for transforming our scientific ideas into business opportunities. The possibility of being able to design our own laboratory and offices was a key aspect in deciding to rent space in GO:IN. Furthermore, GO:IN offers us a wide range of opportunities and services such as meeting rooms, and the technology we require for our presentations, as well as secretarial services, etc. ".

Boston, (USA) an ecosystem which takes full advantage of its environment

The city of Boston (USA) has supported the creation of a new district aimed at attracting innovative companies in order to maintain competitiveness and meet the expansion needs identified by its multiple stakeholders. The site is located in the southern part of Boston, in an area covering over 400 hectares overlooking the sea. It is conveniently situated between the historic port of Boston, near to Logan International Airport, and the intersection of two interstate motorways, and is close to the rest of the city. It is the largest expanse of undeveloped land in the city of Boston, and an area with great potential for growth.

The various objectives of this regeneration project include:

  • The construction of housing which can cater for more flexible lifestyles. 15% of the homes form part of the Innohousing programme.
  • Creating a public space which fosters an innovative ecosystem. 20% of the area has to be designated for innovative uses.
  • Designing business clusters with innovative staff.
  • Creating jobs, attracting businesses, fostering new lifestyles and generating patents.

The area is divided into four areas: the first is located near to the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the second is near to the port’s industrial estate, the third in Fan Pier, and the fourth in the surroundings of Fort Point Canal which is a focus of attraction for artists and designers. Among the numerous companies and organisations which have moved into this innovative area, the most important is the Fraunhofer Institute’s Sustainable Building Centre, which intends to use the space as a living lab for the demonstration of concepts of sustainability. Boston’s Innovation District is a good example of how the regeneration and restoration of an area can be used to attract cutting-edge companies.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

These solutions require coordination between technology parks and companies.

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  1. Conversations held with Mr. Dobson, Doctor and Manager of Begbroke Science Park.
  2. http://www.begbroke.ox.ac.uk/ - Begbroke Science Park.
  3. http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/Home.aspx - Boston Development Agency.
  4. http://cse.fraunhofer.org/ - Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems.
  5. http://www.innovationdistrict.org/ - Innovation District of Boston.
  6. http://www.wisspark.de/en/index.html - GO: IN Project.