Innovation UK > News > Innovation UK Vol5-2 > Raising the standards

Logo of website section Raising the standards

Raising the standards

The UK Science Park Association is dedicated to raising the standards of science park provision

The UK Science Park Association is dedicated to raising the standards of science park provision through an inclusive membership policy and improvement of membership services, ensuring that the brand of science park in the UK is maintained as a distinct property and business development offering, not just a real estate initiative

What are science parks?

Science Parks are also known as Research Parks, Technology Parks, Technology Centres, Technopoles, Innovation Centres, Technology-based Incubators and Bio-Incubators.

It is possible to name a property development a ?science park? even if there is no technology transfer or support for tenants. The UK Science Park Association?s (UKSPA) role is to support the maintenance of high standards of science park provision in the UK through initiatives for members that help them to develop their know-ledge and understanding, grow their networks and share good practice.

UKSPA aims to raise the standards of science park provision through an inclusive membership policy and improvement of membership services to ensure that the brand of science park in the UK is maintained as a distinct property and business development offering, not just a real estate initiative.


How did they begin?

Innovation locations supporting high-tech companies such as Science Parks and Incubators offer a specialist product to high-tech companies. From a property perspective the fact that the market is specialist has meant that property companies in the 1980s and 1990s had to make a positive choice to invest time and money to developing knowledge of the sector. Those companies who, for whatever reasons, chose to invest, are key stakeholders and key players in the science park movement today. The majority of these companies are members of UKSPA.

However, the story did not start with property, but rather with the process of ?commercialisation?, whereby a discovery made through research can, given the right business advice, be developed into a start-up company able, over time, to generate income from the commercialisation of the idea. 1986 was the year when universities were given ownership of the intellectual property generated within their institutions. As companies began to spin out of universities and the private sector, it became obvious that there was a need for physical space to support them.

The public sector, in the form of Local Authorities, Regional Development Agencies and Devolved Administrations, initially viewed science park developments as property developments. Publicsector funds have been invested in capital build in an effort to provide the facilities required to retain or grow commercial activity within a particular region. By the turn of the century, the public sector recognised that this was not enough and so incubation policies were created that recognised the value of an incubation support process. The debate over the value of a ?process? strategy over a ?property? strategy ensued. Would a focus on process rather than property be the answer?

Analysis has shown that a focus on process alone was not sufficient. A new strategy merging the two elements of property and process has already emerged and hopefully will be increasingly evident in RDA and Devolved Administration enterprise and innovation strategies in the coming years. Science parks continue to recognise the value of support mechanisms for their tenant companies and also regard the presence of an incubator service as a way to attract new companies to the area. At the same time, it has become clear that successful incubator tenants require grow-on space. So what was once a clash of ?property? versus ?process? is now emerging as a new era of property-process-economic development-partnership.

Partnership Development

In the 1990s, partnerships between universities, the private sector and the public sector were rare and, where they existed, they were not necessarily effective. Today, many science parks are made up of partners from all three key sectors, all bringing their skills and agendas to the table. Analysis of the formative years of partnership working in the sector revealed that there was a need for improved communications between partners by recognising the occurrence of miscommunication resulting from the differing cultures and expectations of the three sectors.

Many of UKSPA?s Business Affiliates involved in science park developments start with partnership development work, which in their view is critical.

Given the right property, partnership and process, how should the product be managed to best effect? It was during the first half of the ?noughties? that the results of many different and disparate analyses started to reveal some of the critical success factors.

Facts and Figures

  • Estimated annual turnover of tenants: £5.5bn
  • Floor space: 1.88 million sq m
  • Number of employees: 73,000
  • Number of tenant companies: 3,300
  • Number of locations under development: 8
  • Number of locations supporting tenants: 71

Supporting Commercialisation ? Science Parks and Incubators

1. Commercialisation of IP 1980s
2. Science Park properties 1980s
3. Economic development issues 1990s
4. Incubation 2000s
5. Partnership 2000s
6. Models of success 2007

This is the beginning of a new stage in the science park evolution and UKSPA?s role is to support its members who are operating in this arena and are beginning to benefit from these new insights and developments. Recently, there has been much comment and debate regarding ?third generation? science parks. ?Third Generation? (3G) science parks are recognised as an integral part of the infrastructure that supports the growth of regional research intensive clusters (RICs).

The extent of the impact of science parks on their regional knowledge economy is governed by factors outside their control, such as the calibre of research in their local university, the attractiveness of their city or region to the most talented people, the availability of risk capital throughout the lifecycle of technology-based businesses and the efficiency of local networks connecting players in the triple helix of business, academia and public sector. In short, building a science park in a region won?t necessarily guarantee the emergence of a RIC, but it?s quite difficult to identify one that doesn?t have a successful science park.

The most obvious contribution of science parks to the innovation system is physical ? they provide a variety of often specialised accommodation on flexible terms. Certainly in the initial stages of cluster development, private developers won?t take the risk of building speculative laboratories or data centres for an unproven market. Even in more mature markets, there need to be innovative public/private sector partnerships to fund the provision of innovative facilities to small companies with limited cash and a short trading history.

In some cases, shared technical resources can be provided to all tenants by science parks. Examples of this include expensive software development platform technology, clean rooms or sophisticated testing equipment. At the opposite end of the scale, the UK government is supporting the development of science parks around Daresbury and Harwell, recognising that major national science facilities should be accessible to high-tech firms ? start-ups can?t afford their own synchrotron.


A less tangible but equally important contribution by the science park is often one of image and brand. The global competition between regions for talented people and innovative firms is fierce, and a successful science park bestows an added advantage to a region that is trying to develop its knowledge economy through foreign direct investment. The image of a science park can also act as an attractor to talented individuals whose concerns are not just the first job offer but subsequent ones for them and their partners.

A third area where 3G science parks play a role in the innovation system is in acting as a focus and stimulus for the multiplicity of networks that are integral to their success. Sometimes described as ?optimising serendipity?, science park management involves creating opportunities for interaction between the key players ? entrepreneurs, academics and investors. This may be achieved through social or professional events organised by and held on the park premises but it is also a guiding principle in building design ? using space to encourage innovation.

So, today?s science parks and technology-based incubators are critical ingredients for a successful ?knowledgebased economy?. They provide:

  • A focus for entrepreneurial talent
  • Support for high-tech businesses
  • A link between businesses and universities
  • Specialist offices and laboratories
  • Flexible tenancy agreements
  • Bespoke business support at all stages of company development.

As to the future of science parks, well, nothing is certain. The economy has begun to slip into a suspected recession where capital is increasingly difficult to access as financial institutions attempt to recover from poor lending decisions in the property sector.

We have no real feel for the extent or nature of this economic downturn, but one thing is clear ? investors of any nature will be looking very carefully at their returns from their investment in technology-based firms. Today, there is no better place to locate a firm wishing to undertake research or develop a new technology, and UKSPA members are seen to be providing the safest environment in the country for this type of firm.


For more information, contact Paul Wright:

Colworth Science Park

Developed and managed in a joint venture between Goodman and Unilever, Colworth Science Park in Bedfordshire is a thriving location for scientific research, development and commercialisation. The Park is home to 17 companies including Unilever, a major economic contributor to the UK, and is one of six global research centres that benefit from Unilever?s ?1bn annual research budget.

In August 2008, planning permission was granted for a development at the Park that will bring a further 130 high-value jobs to Bedfordshire. The new scheme will comprise a Discovery Centre, providing state-of-the-art conferencing, meeting room and catering facilities plus dedicated space for business school academics. The purpose-built Innovation Centre will house smaller commercial organisations and scientific academics. There will also be provision for additional grow-on space to support larger businesses in the region.

In addition to the growing commercial base, two of the world?s leading academic institutions, Cranfield School of Management and Cambridge University?s Institute for Manufacturing and Judge Business School Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, will also establish an academic presence in the new buildings at the Park.

Last August, Goodman was named the development partner for Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, when it signed a joint venture with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Goodman is working with these partners to develop the site into one of the world?s principal locations for scientific, academic and business collaboration.

Goodman has now secured a major coup with the announcement that the European Space Agency plans to open a research facility at the site. The new centre will focus on researching space robotics and climate change. Investment at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus will encompass fundamental scientific research and the development of property, facilities and local infrastructure. A minimum of 100,000 sq m of laboratory, hightechnology industrial and office accommodation will be developed in the first phase of the project. In the longer term, up to 5,000 high-value knowledge-based jobs are also expected to be created.

For more information,

Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus

Daresbury SIC in Cheshire is a government-backed development on the site of the Daresbury Laboratory, one of the major facilities of the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Although the Lab has been on this site since 1962, with a major focus on accelerator science emerging over the last two decades, it was only in September 2006 when Lord Sainsbury, the Science Minister at the time, launched the Campus as we now know it, starting with a £50m investment from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to build the Daresbury Innovation Centre and the Cockcroft Institute ? the UK Centre for Accelerator Science.

Since then, the Campus?s strapline of locating ?business at the heart of science? has proven to be very accurate, with nearly 100 hi-tech businesses having made Daresbury SIC their home ? mostly representing the digital, biomedical and advanced-engineering sectors. To support the growth of these companies, the Campus brings together business, academia and the public-sector stakeholders in the form of the STFC, NWDA and Halton Borough Council, along with the universities of Liverpool, Lancaster and Manchester.

The Campus network is by no means an intangible benefit ? it would appear to have a real economic impact ? with annual sales growth among tenant companies at 50% and almost 100 new jobs created since the Campus was launched. Companies are also benefiting from government-backed business support services ? with over a quarter using the services of UK Trade & Investment and over half using Business Link Northwest service provided through the NWDA.

The Campus has been earmarked for a £65m government investment for two new technology gateway centres. The new centres will enable research in computer modelling, key in understanding and predicting issues ranging from climate change to how cells interact in the body; and detector and sensor development, for use in security systems and biomedical imaging.

Another exciting development which reflects the extent of interaction between the Campus and the stakeholder Universities is ?IDEAS at Daresbury?. IDEAS (Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Science) is a new collaboration of the Business/Management Schools of the three universities, seeking to promote and develop detailed understanding of the knowledge exchange processes between hi-tech SMEs, large corporations, universities and government-backed science and technology. It will also evaluate the long-term impact of public investment in major science facilities and organisations, such as universities, science parks and research establishments.

For more information, visit:

Northern Ireland science park

Headquartered within the 180-acre Titanic Quarter site ? where the White Star Line?s famous family of Olympic passenger vessels were conceived ? Northern Ireland Science Park?s (NISP) creative campus is in one of the largest city centre waterfront redevelopments sites in Europe. Tenants at the Science Park range from global giants down to single-desk start-ups. At present, there are around 1,400 staff on the NISP site generating £40m in annual salaries. UKSPA estimates that for every two jobs on a Science Park there is one off site. On that basis, NISP supports an additional 700 jobs nearby in an area of targeted social need.

NISP has now announced the successful completion of the first phase of a major new development that sees over 50,000sq ft of additional workspace ? and half a dozen new tenant companies ? added to its East Belfast campus. Concourse Building One, which comprises five floors of agile workspace and capacity to house around 500 staff, is a major addition to the Science Park. Already NISP has signed up a full roster of tenants for Building One, and these include major multinational companies. One such company, Fidessa is expected to create up to 26 highly skilled software programming jobs and invest around £2.5m over the first three years of its residency.

Over time, this building will be joined by Concourse Buildings Two and Three. All three buildings, which can be interlinked, will add a total of 210,000sq ft of lettable space to the campus ? more than doubling the organisation?s present footprint. Plans are now underway to see potential tenants register early interest for Concourse Building Two.

Last September, the Science Park unveiled its newly refurbished Titanic?s Dock and Pump House. This seven-acre scheduled site contains the massive dry-dock where RMS Titanic was fitted out and is known locally as ?Titanic?s physical footprint in history?. The listed Pump-House accommodates a café, visitor?s centre as well as an interpretive centre for what was the largest dock and most powerful pumps in the world when completed in 1911.

This site will bring tourism to the Park, but, more importantly, Titanic?s Dock & Pump House will provide a major educational facility for children across Northern Ireland to come and learn about science and engineering.

For more information, visit:

University of Warwick Science Park

Ten European companies have made the decision to take up permanent residence in the UK and have located at the University of Warwick Science Park, in the West Midlands, through the support of an inward investment programme ? Bridge to Growth ? funded and led by the Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands, working closely with UKTI.

The aim of the Bridge to Growth (B2G) programme is to seek out fast-growing businesses in Europe and help them to set up a UK subsidiary in the West Midlands. Since the programme started in 2006, more than 250 companies have visited the West Midlands, arriving from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands as the result of marketing seminars run jointly by AWM and UKTI. Australian and New Zealand companies have also taken advantage of this innovative project.

In the UK, the programme is delivered by a group of Partners with complementary skills working within the Advantage West Midlands programme who blend their skills to short cut problems faced by inward investors and reduce their costs. The University of Warwick Science Park plays its part in providing fully serviced offices in the UK Market Access Centre, located in its prestigious building, Riley Court.

Several furnished suites accommodate one, two or threeperson start-up operations and there is also a hot-desk facility for those companies who require just a base to work from. The accommodation is provided for a sixmonth period at special rates and thereafter property can be rented according to business needs.

Over the past three years, 25 companies have taken up space in the UK Market Access Centre and 10 of these have expanded into other premises on the Science Park. The Science Park also offers marketing advice through its own professional team of marketers, known as Tech- Mark. The TechMark team can undertake any work to help companies successfully launch their product into the UK market. Accounting, legal, business-lead generation services, general back-office support, company formation services and recruitment services are provided by other Partners.

For more information, visit:

Added the 07 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2

social bookmarking

  • (subscribe feed): Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks in Facebook
  • (subscribe feed): Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks in Twitter
  • (subscribe feed): Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks in Ok Notizie
  • (subscribe feed): Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks in Diggita
  • (subscribe feed): Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks in Segnalo
  • (subscribe feed): Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks in Technorati
  • (subscribe feed): Raising the standards in Google Bookmarks
  • (subscribe feed): Raising the standards in Windows Live Space
  • (subscribe feed): Raising the standards in Netscape
  • (subscribe feed): Raising the standards in Yahoo! My Web
  • (subscribe feed): Raising the standards in
Tags: Centres of Excellence, science parks, UK Science Park Association, technology parks