Innovative Management of Spanish Academic Science Parks: Designing and Testing of Management Tool

Innovative Management of Spanish Academic Science Parks: Designing and Testing of Management Tool

Monica Cerdan-Chiscano (Ramon Llull University, Spain), Ana Isabel Jimenez-Zarco (Open University of Catalonia, Spain) and Joan Torrent-Sellens (Open University of Catalonia, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8798-1.ch018
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Abstract

The correct management of academic science parks is strategic for universities, as well as has synergistic effect for companies there in installed. Park managers choose who the tenants for the parks are, but also they take other strategic decisions relative to: (a) academic spin-offs creation, (b) investment in technology-based companies, o (c) consolidation the start-ups that have finished their incubation period. Managers have tools to increase quality decisions and reduce the level of risk associated. However, the park' nature and characteristics are unique, thus tools must be flexible, and able to adapt to the changing reality of the companies, park and environment. Based on the previous ideas, the present chapter proposes to design and test a management tool for science parks based on organizations and entrepreneur's characteristics. Results obtained show that the tool is very useful, due that its simplicity, flexibility and adaptability for be used in any Science Park.
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Academic Science Park: The Current Situation

What explains the development of academic science park? Why do academic science park have reached a high degree of development in certain countries? Have academic science park really favoured the growth of firms, and thus the territory's economic and social development?

Over the last thirty years, governments in developed countries have placed increasing emphasis on measures to support small firms, especially those firms what are high technology (Berry, 1998). Furthermore, cooperation network strategies between a firm and other businesses, or other external public and private organizations can lead to an efficient use of firms' resources, especially in some complex situations, such as the innovation development processes (Westhead and Storey, 1995).

Both facts influence directly and justify the interest on the Science park phenomenon, and even explain their important development and diffusion during the last three decades.

The concept of academic science park is originated back in the late 1950s of the last century. The academic science parks are usually created around universities, where new firms -usually drives by an entrepreneur with few resources - interact continuously with them. The idea is to provide an infrastructure of technical, logistic, administrative help that a young firm needs as it struggles to gain a foothold for its product in an increasingly competitive market (Guy, 1996). The development of academic science park in Europe clearly has received its early impetus from the USA experience. The first and probably the most successful science park of all time, the Stanford University Science Park in California, was founded in 1950 and in 1986 had already over 80 occupant companies employing over 26000 people. Starting slowly the Park eventually drew in Eastman Kodak and Varian and accommodates new university-spawned companies such as Hewlett- Packard and Syntex, thereby fuelling its growth from both external and internal sources. Silicon Valley, the regional expression of the 'Stanford phenomenon', in 1986 had already more than 3000 advanced electronics companies providing over 200.000 jobs.

Research parks became more common in Europe during the 1980's. However, majority of the currently existing Science & Technology Parks in the world were created during the 1990's of the last century (Storey and Tether, 1998).

Academic literature on the actual performance of academic science park is not unanimous. Thus, some studies point to the benefits that academic science park offer to firms, while others works show how firms' presence in a science park has negative effects on them. In this sense, Massey et al. (1992) argue that academic science park are not major sources of technology development, and geographical proximity between a university and a science park seems to account for very little in promoting technology transfer. They found many academic science park to be primarily a form of prestigious real estate with few productive synergies generated. On the other hand, Castells and Hall (1994) argue that the synergies are not likely to happen in low-density academic science park. Westhead and Storey (1995) found that a number of firms have located on a science park in order to be close to a university.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Academic Spin-Offs: A University spin-off is a business founded by researchers to enhance the results of their own research activity and scientific knowledge, in which University may be a partner. Researchers, as partners, share the profits. From the legal viewpoint, a spin-off is no different from an ordinary business enterprise. The particularity of spin-offs lies in in the fact that they are promoted, created and developed by one or more people who have a close relationship with the research world and use the know-how developed within research organisations in their business activity.

University-Firm Transfer: University-firm transfer is the relationship that the university sets with companies (as a social actor), in which the university transfers knowledge to society.

Association of Science and Technology Parks of Spain (APTE): APTE is an association formed by different science and technology parks that are located in 17 different autonomous communities. The companies and institutions located in those parks are the best the reference of the Spanish system of innovation.

Academic Science Park: Academic Science Par, or university Research Park, is a physical place that supports university-industry and government collaboration with the intent of creating high technology economic development and advancing knowledge.

Technology-Based Firms (TBF): A technology-based firm is a type of university spin-off that uses scientific and technological knowledge systematically and continuously to produce new goods or services with high added value. They mainly operate in top-level strategic sectors, such as microelectronics, biotechnology, medical device, nanotechnology, etc.

UAB Research Park (UABRP): UAB Research Park is a science park connected with the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The UABRP was created in 2007 as a non-profit private foundation, with the aim of improving knowledge and technology transfer between the university and firms.

Knowledge- Based Firms (KBF): A knowledge-based firm is a type of university spin-off, whose main research result is knowledge. Among them, are companies formed in the fields of social and human sciences.

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