Science parks: the first Digital Innovation Hubs
The European Commission has recently launched an initiative to promote the development of ecosystems that enhance business competitiveness through the application of digital technologies, which they are calling Digital Innovation Hubs.
If we look back approximately 30 years ago, Spain began to see the emergence of new projects, then called technology parks and later, science and technology parks (STPs), which aimed to improve the competitiveness of Spanish industry, at the time in a difficult situation. This improvement in industry was due to its approach to the new technologies of the day, including an incipient Internet and initial contact with scarce R&D. During those early years, many companies had their first contact with these new technologies when they moved into a park.
Gradually, thanks to the impact they were having on local industry, parks began to appear all over Spain. In addition, universities also began to get involved in the development and promotion of parks, progressively developing a unique ecosystem, where companies, researchers, public administration, investors and entrepreneurs worked in the same place.
Today, companies and entities located in STPs tend to have higher indicators of innovation and competitiveness than those outside them. In addition, during the hardest years of the economic crisis, companies in STPs had lower mortality rates than those based elsewhere.
When it comes digital technologies, there are currently some 1,700 companies in STPs working in the ICT sector that are working on disruptive technologies that will change the way we live, and soon. STPs keep a careful eye on new technologies, so that as soon as a new one emerges, they quickly spread it and develop it in their ecosystem.
This same ecosystem is what now defines the Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) promoted by DG Connect of the European Commission, and with which Spanish STPs will collaborate. Because every time a new initiative to support business competitiveness appears, far from competing with them, science parks cooperate.
It is worth looking back and remembering that we were pioneers: the first DIHs created in Spain were the science and technology parks.
Felipe Romera Lubias
President of the Association of Science and Technology Parks of Spain (APTE)