Tech-Parks And Universities

Author: Dr Shahid Raza

Tech Park is an area where companies have offices and laboratories and do work involving science and technology. The purpose of these parks is to provide a place where innovative businesses can develop and prosper. The main objective of technology parks is to support the creation and development of knowledge-based enterprises.

Building a knowledge-based economy is the top priority of any national development plan. This requires linking between technology’s supplies and the industry’s needs along with customers’ demands including government. In some countries, there are weaknesses on all sides of this supply, needs, and demand relationship as well as at the interface between the three. Within this trilogy matrix raised the importance of Science and Technology Parks (STPs), which are owned and operated by universities. This formula provided both the linkage between education and research from one hand, and between research and development from the other hand, thus, giving support to the national development plans. This research is shedding light on University STPs and their contribution worldwide. It also discusses their increasing role in both developing and advanced countries. The research turns attention to STPs in advanced countries and the importance of launching universities’ STPs to serve within the national development plan. The research consists of three main parts; a study of STP conception and contribution, followed by an analytical study of some examples of University STPs worldwide then a study of the state of STPs in developed countries. The research raises a practical plan for University STP to take place within the national development. The research suggests future studies to serve the same topics.

Technology Park at any university fosters the innovation that fuels any economy and promotes positive change in the world. Our country needs to focus & on growing companies working on world-changing concepts in life sciences, biotechnology, engineering, materials, chemical research, information technology, and other fields.

National Science & Technology Park (NSTP) is Pakistan’s first Science and Technology Park, an innovation powerhouse located in the heart of Islamabad near universities, research institutions, four major industrial hubs, business centres, and an airport. Approximately 35 per cent of national research work is conducted within a 30-mile radius of the park’s premises.

With over 110,000 square feet of office space, state-of-the-art IT services, intellectual property and technology transfer services, business consultancy services, industrial and international linkages/partnerships, highly qualified faculty members, talented students, and graduates, access to 330+ labs and testing facilities, and international partners, NSTP is a supportive location for hi-tech startups, SMEs pursuing innovation and other businesses to flourish and gain competitive advantage.

NSTP promotes research, innovation, technology development, and commercialization by facilitating cross-fertilization and cooperation between various stakeholders, including research centres, universities, industry, communities, and government. This interaction helps transform innovative ideas into successful products and services while promulgating a culture of entrepreneurship, creating impactful solutions for the improvement of society, and driving growth and economic activity in the country.

The park holds high-tech Special Economic Zone status, offering resident companies exemption on custom duties on the import of machinery, helping them lower procurement costs, as well as exemption from income tax for a period of up to 10 years. It is currently home to more than 60 companies ranging from entrepreneurial startups to multinational companies from Turkey, China, USA, UAE, New Zealand, and Switzerland working across 8 distinct themes of the park: AgriTech, AutoTech, EduTech, EnergyTech, FinTech, HealthTech, SmartTech and DefTech.

Several universities around the world have successful parks either located within their campuses or nearby. These parks often serve as recreational spaces for students, faculty, and the community, as well as educational and research hubs. Here are some examples including Stanford University Arboretum (California, USA), University of Oxford Botanic Garden (England), and University of California, Berkeley – Tilden Regional Park (California, USA). In India, several universities have parks and green spaces that serve as recreational areas, research facilities, and educational centres. In China, several universities have developed parks and green spaces within their campuses or nearby areas, providing students, faculty, and the community with recreational, educational, and research opportunities. In Pakistan, only a few universities have developed parks and green spaces within their campuses or nearby areas, providing students, faculty, and the community with recreational, educational, and research opportunities.

Pakistani leadership can create an enabling environment for the establishment and success of technology parks in universities.

Several factors contribute to the challenges faced by Pakistani universities in establishing successful technology parks. Addressing these challenges will require concerted efforts from universities, government agencies, industry stakeholders, and other relevant actors to overcome barriers and create an enabling environment for the establishment of successful technology parks in Pakistan. This may involve reforms in funding mechanisms, regulatory frameworks, industry-academia collaborations, and infrastructure development, among other measures.

Establishing technology parks in Pakistani universities requires a systematic approach and collaboration between various stakeholders. Here are steps that can be taken to establish tech parks effectively.

Foster a culture of research, innovation, and collaboration within the university community. Encourage faculty members, researchers, and students to engage in interdisciplinary research, technology transfer, and commercialization activities that align with the focus areas of the tech park. By engaging stakeholders effectively, Pakistani universities can establish technology parks that serve as vibrant hubs for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development in the region.

The failure of Pakistani leadership to focus on establishing technology parks in universities can be attributed to several factors including Lack of Vision and Strategic Planning, Limited Investment in Education and Research, Political Instability and Priorities, Bureaucratic Hurdles and Corruption, Lack of Industry-Academia Collaboration, Skills Mismatch and Brain Drain, Security Concerns and Infrastructure Deficiencies.

Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from Pakistani leadership to prioritize education, research, and innovation, as well as to improve governance, investment climate, and collaboration between academia, industry, and government. By addressing these underlying issues, Pakistani leadership can create an enabling environment for the establishment and success of technology parks in universities, contributing to economic growth, job creation, and technological advancement in the country.

To move forward with establishing technology parks in Pakistani universities, several steps can be taken including Leadership Commitment, Strategic Partnerships, Investment in Education and Research, Policy and Regulatory Reforms, Industry-Academia Collaboration, Skills Development and Talent Retention, and Infrastructure Development.

By implementing these strategies and engaging stakeholders effectively, Pakistani universities can establish technology parks that serve as vibrant hubs for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development in the country.

The writer is an entrepreneur and Advisor (LGU).

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