Evolution of Science & Technology Parks for Developing Economics

Science & Technology Parks (STPs) are a type of industrial vicinage that features the knot of companies, academia, research and business incubation facilities to promote advanced commercial research in key economic areas.
According to UK Science Park Association, “STP provides an environment where larger and international businesses can develop specific and close interactions with a particular center of knowledge creation for their mutual benefit”. The idea to set-up these science and knowledge hubs spurred with the development of Silicon Valley USA in early 1950s. The notion earned popularity as a composite mechanism to accelerate economic growth to the point that today over 400 STPs are present worldwide. USA is at top of the list with 150, japan with 111 and china around 100.
In a triple helix model of configuration, science and knowledge parks are supported by the governments to facilitate collaboration between academia and businesses to support applied research. This collaboration leads to product innovation, increased exports and income generation opportunities. STPs also represents an attempt to encourage regional economic development through the use of regional creativity and innovation. These knowledge hubs foster entrepreneurship, local industry competitiveness and also adds into the innovation and research profile of a specific economy.
Over a decade ago, China launched a large-scale program to develop science parks with onsite business incubators. The project was aimed to rebuild the economic architecture to spawn institutions that would greatly improve nation’s innovation system. As an inspiration from the developed world, STPs have made way into the developing countries as strategic interventions for economic development.
Pakistan with its promising young population profile, a thriving industrial sector and an ever growing trend of entrepreneurship among its youth is considered to be at a highpoint of hosting knowledge, science and technology hubs. The country is ready to explore the potentials of stepping forward into the global knowledge based economy. Lahore Knowledge Park is being established as a very step towards this economic paradigm shift. Lahore Knowledge Park (LKP) will promote high-end commercial research in key economic clusters; Manufacturing and Engineering Sciences, Biotechnology and Life Sciences, ICT, Creative Media and Arts. LKP will enable a national ecosystem of innovation through creating synergies between the academia and industry through providing platform for business incubation and acquisition of highly skilled workforce. The park is also going to be the hotbed of international standard opportunities of higher education for the country’s youth.
For developing economies like Pakistan, knowledge and science parks can prove to be one of the best means to promote innovation networking and professional engagement between the institutions of higher education, research and the industry. In order to fully exteriorize the potentials of these knowledge hubs, efforts should be made to setup a pragmatic as well as ideologically sound establishing, refining and enlarging the concept of the Knowledge Park. This framework would be based on the principles of cross-fertilization of ideas, gender inclusion and sharing of infrastructure and resources for the good of all as well as the renewal of higher education institutions to accelerate national development.

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