Collaboration is key for science parks of today

Inside Edinburgh Technopole, University of Edinburgh science park. Picture: TSPL
Inside Edinburgh Technopole, University of Edinburgh science park. Picture: TSPL
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THE 1980s and 90s saw a massive proliferation of science parks. They sprung up outside every city, were attached to every university in the country and attracted subsidies from government.

Science parks were a “good thing”. And they still are. They can harness the Intellectual Property generated by academics and transform it in to businesses that provide highly skilled jobs.

Sadly, in these early days, many parks failed because they were placed in inappropriate areas to serve grand government plans. Conditions attached to public money meant the growth of businesses was restricted.

These days the future of science parks is to allow them to grow organically and collaborate in their local area and to reach out around the world.

Edinburgh Technopole is the only privately-owned science park at the Bush Estate in Midlothian.

It is home to a range of companies but focuses on science and technology. Companies such as BioBest, specialising in veterinary diagnostics; Xilinx, developing reprogrammable computer chips; and Dukosi, working on batteries for electric cars.

Tenants and staff at Technopole work effectively with local sites through the Edinburgh Science Triangle. Together these parks have established the Lothians at the frontline of science and technology businesses.

There is no detailed grand plan, the parks and tenants collaborate because it is in their interests to do so.

Edinburgh Technopole is also part of the BEST Network, a virtual cluster of the largest privately-owned portfolio of science and technology parks in the UK. The network is effective because of the different sectors it brings together.

We encourage collaboration between the different parks and their tenants by offering shared services and contacts. It is also able to offer a broader range of options to potential tenants and can direct them to the park and area which has the required skills and knowledge, making each park more attractive individually.

The future for science parks is bright but it must be flexible, allowing organic collaboration in local areas as well as looking outwards to form the broader collaborations that will guarantee success.

• Chris Mitchell is associate director of LaSalle Investment Management

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