Title: Science parks: theory and background

Authors: Woodrow W. Clark Jr.

Addresses: Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Abstract: The core concept driving the development of science parks has been the perception that, if an industrial area was in close geographical proximity to a research and development organisation, then it might benefit from that research environment. This was one of the basic concepts surrounding the establishment in the early 1950s of an industrial park close to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. In this case, even the industrial or technology/science park area was owned by the university so that Stanford University benefited not only by the commercialisation of its research, but also through the rents collected from the tenants of the park. The Stanford University experience, which became the foundation for the Silicon Valley, was not rooted in any particular economic theory. Indeed, the originators of these and related concepts of economic development for the entire northern California region were engineers, not economists, urban planners or politicians. What they foresaw however, was the need to link basic and theoretical research to the real world the world of commerce, trade and business. This link was good for R&D and was equally good for the placement of students directly into industry. And in many cases, the students formed their own firms and hence become ||self-employed||. Today, science parks are seen as a solution to the complex problems of economic development, under-employment, job creation, corporate downsizing, and new business development. Thus, science parks receive considerable attention and financial support from local, regional and national governments. Science parks in themselves had no real economic or business theoretical basis. However, as the years saw them emerge from practical needs into more institutionalised practice, theoretical concepts were needed. This paper explores the theoretical areas and paradigms that explain science parks and their impact on local communities. The paper provides some guidance on the theoretical concepts that grew from the practical levels of scientific exploration, business creation and therefore economic development.

Keywords: science parks; economic theories; firm; research and development.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTTC.2003.003165

International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, 2003 Vol.2 No.2, pp.150-178

Published online: 13 Jul 2003 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article