By Don Holbrook, Site Location Advisor
The original concept of Science and Technology parks has been going through a frantic evolution just like the field of technology and knowledge-based products and services that underpin the entire foundation of this area of economic development.
We as individuals are becoming ubiquitously interconnected to everything – work, friends, family and our entire activity and consumption based agenda, whether for our career, relaxation and entertainment or just daily choices in lifestyle through our preferred networks of information suppliers. Science and Technology Parks are also evolving away from simply places for place-based investment that marries academic culture to corporate culture. These locales have traditionally been tasked with assisting innovation and high tech entrepreneurs with federal policies so that funding can be achieved by overcoming barriers to compliance regulations. According to Brian Darmody, Associate Vice President of Research and Economic Development, for the University of Maryland’s technology development initiative, “Entrepreneurs tend to be non-compliant people, which is why they are innovators.”
Now even cience and Technology parks are evolving into a worldwide network of innovation. This has become a major focus to grow jobs and economic development. This field has grown from the original concept the Stanford University Science Park, which became known infamously now as Silicon Valley followed closely behind in the 1960’s by Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, into over 400 parks across the world. The United States leads with over 170 and Japan comes in second with over 111, and China now has over 100 parks. One of the latest park efforts has been the UNLV Science and Technology Park named the “Harry Reid Research and Technology Park,” in Las Vegas. Research parks have done well at accelerating economic growth and international competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report of 2011.
According to the National Academies of Science, Associate Director, Charles Wessner, “research parks are evolving at a rapid pace and their only similar main objective is to assist regions to turn their educational investments into good local jobs and economic productivity.”
These efforts are founded in a shared responsibility between the public and private sectors that must grapple with Governance, which includes creating access to capital, technology transfer ownership issues, protecting the intellectual property produced, daily management, emerging trends and finding stakeholders for commercialization collaboration. They emerge as incubation centers for some of the most state of the art technologies available today. They are a test bed of integrating social trends with corporate delivery technologies. These places must also be on the cutting edge of sustainable green demands simultaneously.
The growth of technology integration into mainstream society has fueled the growth of University and Private sector collaboration where both sectors share a similar need to develop revenues through such efforts.
Today the convergence of information and knowledge based technology foundations is connecting biological development and advanced manufacturing and just in time production and consumption of virtually everything we need or desire.
All of this is being made possible by super advanced technologies. According to Phillip Vannier, EVP Big Data & Security Solutions Group, “Quantum and high performance computing is making the once impossible possible. Companies need to understand technology today to survive and thrive tomorrow.”
This is sometimes referred to as the Moonshot Economy, which signals a seismic shift from the traditional innovation process to uninhibited imagination across all industries. Furthermore, humans are seeing rise again of Neotribalism, where like-minded people are connected together across the global platform to express themselves both collectively and build individualism, no longer separated by distance and locational proximity to gathering.
The rise of Cybrids, the new younger global generation that grown up fully integrated with fast changing technology fused lifestyles with access to anything and everything at their fingertips. They are tethered to technology without concern 24/7. These new global networks are creating new types of scientists. The lone genius is becoming a thing of the past, as innovation is now normally a collective effort on massive scales that ties many people into shared work styles.
This is anchored by intelligent materials, computer artificial intelligence and 3D & 4D printable production for instant design concept evaluation. Computer Artificial Intelligence grows more sentient with chat bot technology and it begins to comprehend and anticipate human emotion raising the world of humanoid robotics as a foreseeable outcome and no longer the realm of science fiction.
All of this has an underlying focus on a shift from Green to Blue economic sustainable expectations sweeping across the market place by consumer demand of certain environmentally sensitive production for all products and services. This shift is not only aimed at good environmental stewardship of our planet, by at a minimum being carbon neutral, it also expects that our activities replace more than we take in order to operate in our ecosystem. Virtually everything we touch is being digitally mapped so that data can be mined not only for commercial use to service our needs and desires but also to predict our decision making processes, so that automation can be utilized to boost expectation efficiency.
What is driving the work of the future are Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process automation, Block Chain global currencies, Edge computing the next generation of Cloud Computing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Cyber Security, and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to Nikitta Doggal, one of the new Digital Nomads of today’s elite economy, author of “Technology Trends and Jobs in 2019.
These new norms are reshaping Science and Technology Parks away from places into Technopoles. Technopoles bring together in one location and/or region the components the components necessary for making innovation happen. This is heavily dependent upon long-term vision and widely scattered economic development resources coming together to create competitive momentum, as well as physical hard infrastructure funded by local community leaders, Universities, and corporate partners. Rick Weddle, former President of the Research Triangle Park, and International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation, currently President of the Site Selectors Guild, says, “the evolution from strictly placed based research oriented parks to regional networked clusters of specialized areas of innovation is driving the economic growth of today and tomorrow.”
Joan Bellavista, Advisory Board Member, Spanish Association of Science and Technology Parks, agrees with Weddle and goes further by saying, “Parks are micro systems of innovation incorporating most of the existing elements driving innovation in local territories. However due to the diverse models of parks around the globe, these elements are better analyzed and realized when the focus is upon the networking of these parks to act simultaneously interconnecting the various actors and stakeholders within these focused niches globally.”
In conclusion, competitive cities, regions and countries must adopt and become interconnected to various Areas of innovation in order to provide access to the new entrepreneurial work style of the younger “Cybrid” workforce and the competitive advancements being sought and achieved in the global economy.
Bio: Don A. Holbrook is a 25-year veteran economic development site location and incentive consultant. He and his team have worked on projects across North America and around the globe. His focus is primarily on place-based economic development tourism strategies and designing the team and products that communities’ can use to attract such investments. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and has written five, best-selling books speaking frequently around the world at professional functions. He has been featured on CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS television and radio networks, and in LA Times, USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, FDI (the Economist Group) and many local television, print and radio interviews. He has been one of the North American Judges for FDI Magazine for the past six years on The Best Community Economies for Growth & Investment. He is a former board of director of the International Economic Development Council, and Fellow Member of IEDC, as well as Certified Economic Developer.