Last month, I wrote about incubators and the effect their success can have on a community. This month, I want to take a look at research and technology parks and the benefits they provide to their local areas and beyond.
Research parks are similar to incubators, but they are property-based endeavors much larger in scale, usually covering numerous acres. In fact, many actually house incubator programs. They partner with local universities and research organizations to encourage company growth, promote the commercialization of technology, and support economic development. This innovation-based effort increases the wealth of the community and the businesses that reside within it.
An example of a successful research park is Research Triangle Park (RTP), located in North Carolina. This park encompasses 7,000 acres and is the largest research park in North America. More than 170 companies reside on the campus, employing over 42,000 full-time workers. These companies range from federal agencies to university institutions and from Fortune 100 organizations to small start-up firms. With abundant collaboration opportunities, it’s no surprise that RTP boasts many discoveries and prestigious awards, including the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. The Park is also in the midst of ten universities and colleges, which provide RTP with a diverse and talented selection of potential employees. Its success is reaching beyond the Park limits as the surrounding counties continue to experience significant population growth, low unemployment rates, and a per capita income well above the national average. Take a look at RTP’s website, www.rtp.org, for further information and statistics.
So what makes a research park like Research Triangle Park so prosperous? According to the International Association of Science Parks (IASP), successful research parks share some common characteristics:
- Champions: Those committed to supporting the growth of the park
- Leadership: Management who effectively facilitates networking among all of the park’s stakeholders
- Funding: Ongoing public and private funding as well as policies that support innovative companies
- Bridging Institutions: Foundations and organizations who maintain the vision of the park over the long-term
- Soft Infrastructure: Human capital that is molded through public investments in education, training, policies, and networking
- Metrics: Measures to help with goal-setting and gauge the park’s progress
If you’re interested in learning more about research parks, the sources below are great places to find answers to your questions.
Research Triangle Park: www.rtp.org
International Association of Science Parks: www.iasp.ws
Association of University Research Parks: www.aurp.net