CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING A UNIVERSITY BASED SCIENCE PARK:
Engr. U.B. Bindir (PhD) & Mr I. M. Nwaedozie
National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP)
(Federal Ministry of Science and Technology)
PMB 5074 Wuse Post Office
BEING PAPER PRESENTED AT THE WORKSHOP ON STRENTHENING CAPACITIES OF UNIVERSITIES IN SCIENCE POLICY AND INNOVATION MANEAGEMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IFE-OSUN STATE,1-4 DECEMBER,2009
(2) Global Evolution of STPs.
(3) Functions of a University Science Parks
Science Parks (SP) are development model that has been used by developed nations in order to stimulate and sustain industrialization. It is common in USA, UK, China, Japan etc. They offer perfect breeding ground for businesses and institutions required in the contemporary knowledge economy.
However, they contribute to economic development and competitiveness of regions and cities by offering new business opportunities and adding value to mature companies, fostering entrepreneurship, incubating new innovative companies, generating knowledge-based jobs, providing attractive spaces for the emerging knowledge workers and enhancing synergy between universities or local authorities and companies.
FMST(2006) proposed six(6) prospective science parks in Nigeria and non is university based. Universities and Research Institutions are centers of technological innovative activities in developing and emerging economies. Nigerian universities have capacity and capability to establish SPs.
1.1 CONCEPTUAL DEFINITIONS AND FRAMEWORK:
Various names have been used for Science Park such as Technology Park, Innovation Centre, Science City or Science Town, Technopole. The names/terms describe an economic application of high technology to industry, irrespective of slight differences that may exist among different names.
Located at the Science Park Complex are the followings:
• Research Facilities,
• Business Incubators
• Training/manpower development centre,
• Business exchange and services facilities
Most science parks focus on information technology (electronic & computers), telecommunication, biotechnology and New materials. They are linked to centres of technological excellence usually universities or research institutes.
According to the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) , a Science Parks is an organization managed by specialized professionals ,whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its immediate community and its country at large by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its business and knowledge- based institutions.
The ultimate objectives are to stimulate and manage the flow of knowledge and technology amongst Universities ,R&D institutions, companies and markets, facilitates the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes and provide other value –added services together with high quality space and facilities.
(2) GLOBAL EVOLUTION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARKS:
The first Science & Technology Parks (STIPs) in the world was the Stanford University Science Park-in the United States of America, built in 1951, which has developed to be the famous Silicon Valley. Subsequently, the Cambridge University and the Oxford University Science and Technology Parks in the UK were established in the 60’s.
Today, there are over 1,000 Science and Technology parks all over the world, more than 180 in the USA, 280 in the America,480 in Europe, about 380 in the Asian –Pacific region in which more than 54 in China,26 in Japan, more than 30 in Australia and New Zealand,53 in Russia and none in Africa,Guoqing,FU (2007).
The history of Science & Technology Parks (STPs) for instance in China can be traced back to May 1988 .it has quickened investment steps on capital construction and establish cities, promote the development of technology industries, drive local economic development immensely and adjust & optimize the national economic structure.
(3)Functions of a University based Science Parks:
Promotion of research and development by the university in partnership with industry, assisting in the growth of new ventures and promoting economic development.
Facilitating the creation and growth if innovation-based companies through incubation and venturing.
Stimulating and managing the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets.
Promotion of an environment where knowledge-based enterprises can develop close interactions with a particular centre of knowledge creation for mutual benefits.
Adding value to “Regional” Academic Outputs and Inputs.
Improving R& D Benchmarking, Planning and Outputs.
Encouraging export activities and thus make significant contribution to GDP.
Creating employment opportunities through the formation of spin-off companies (SMEs).
(4) CHALLENGES OF A UNIVERSITY BASED SPs IN NIGERIA
• Development challenges differ from country to country or region to region. In developed and developing economies the challenges vary in nature and complexity. In this context, an overview of challenges for a university based science park in a developing economy such as Nigeria would be highlighted. Some of these may include among others.
4.1: POOR QUALITY OF SCIENTIFIC R&D OUTPUTS:
Out of 25,000 science and technology research outputs from Nigeria Universities and Research Institutions collated by NOTAP in 2006, less than 1% is adjudged to be viable for commercialization. Patents generation-one of the indices of measuring quality research outputs are ridiculous low from our innovation institutions(NOTAP-WIPO,2006)
(4.2)LACK OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY(IP) & INNOVATION POLICIES:
Absence of an Intellectual Property and innovation policies in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions hinders stimulation of entrepreneurialism among researchers and students. In an effort to bridge the gap, NOTAP in collaboration with WIPO has established 27 IPTTOs between 2006-2008 within the tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This initiative has has improved University/ Research Institutes linkage with the industry and also improving patent culture and inventiveness in Institutions where they exist.
4.3 :POOR STATE OF CRITICAL DEVELOPMENT INFRASTRUCTURE:
Most universities in developing economies do not at present have adequate infrastructure that can sustain science parks development and its operations. Some of these infrastructures include constant power supply (electricity), water supply, science and engineering laboratories & complexes, ICT facilities amongst others.
The national demand for electricity in Nigeria is more than 10,000MW while total supply is less than 3,500MW.This has increased the cost of business in Nigeria and had led to relocation of many multinational corporations out of the countries where business environment is not favourable for profitable investment.
4.4: Weak engineering sector :
The engineering sector of the economy is poorly developed. The Iron & steel ,machine tools, Rolling Mills, foundry shops, aluminum industries, petrochemicals, solid minerals are operating at a very low capacity utilization and this poses critical challenges to industrialization initiatives including public or private science parks.
4.5: University weak linkage with Industry and Society :
The weak linkage string between the universities and the industry may constitute a barrier in the development of science parks. University on its own cannot do it alone. There should be a synergy between the university authority and the Organized Private Sector (OPS) organizations for a long term development initiatives such as science park development to evolve and be sustainable.
4.6: DECLINE IN PARLIAMENTARY FUNDING :
The decline in the parliamentary funding of universities in recent time has forced most university authorities in Nigeria to keep in view some development projects and investments in R&D research programme.
Science park development programme requires massive and consistent funding long term from the promoters which principally should be government during the early life of the programme.
Absence of take-off grant constitutes a big challenge while considering decisions on science park establishment and development by the universities .
Table 2: 2009 Federal Government Budget per Sector(Total $21 billion)
4.7: Ethical Re-orientation:
Changing the traditions/mindsets/attitudes of the university researchers to conform to the requirements of the present knowledge society may hinder qualitative innovative research activities that will lead to the generation and transfer of knowledge from the university laboratories to science park complex for incubation and mass production.
Most faculty officers stick to the tradition of focusing on basic rather than applied research activities will led to product or process innovations and its commercialization.
4.8 :Global Economic Meltdown:
The global economic meltdown has also made access to international development fund a difficult undertaking. Foreign direct investments on the decline in Africa and is shifting to product based economies such as Japan,China,Taiwa,south korea etc.
4.9 Policy Inconsistency:
The periodical change of leadership in the universities most times result to changes development priorities and methodologies. Establishment of the university science park program may not be a priority.
4.10: Lack of incentives:
Lack of incentives to encourage innovative research and development activities in the universities.
5.0: Prospect for a University based STPs in Nigeria:
Robust National System of Innovation:
There are 95 Universities in Nigeria comprising of 27 federal, 34 states and 34 private universities all conducting research to solve problems confronting man on earth (NUC, 2009).More than 60% of these institutions have science and engineering faculties producing young and intelligent scientists and engineers annually.
More so , there are a total of 65 Research Institutions in Nigeria with 20 under S&T, 29 in Agriculture,2 in Health,5 in Industry,3 in Power & Steel,4 in Solid Minerals,2 in Education.
There are 46 plytechnics,89 monotechnics,8 colleges of education (technical ) and 138 technical colleges (MBTE,2000).
• Universities should put in place Intellectual Property(IP) and Innovation policies;
• Engage in market/industry driven(Target Research)
• Massive and consistent government financial support
• University authority should introduce robust incentives to encourage faculty officers undertake market driven research activities(in biotechnology, nanotechnology, new materials, ICT, Space sciences etc.
• Develop strong linkages with local/international academic institutions and industries;
• Engage Public Private Partnership(PPP);
• Improve science and engineering infrastructural facilities:
• Build significant capacity and capabilities:
There are more than 1,000 Science and Technology Industrial Parks all over the world. Science Parks provide a platform for the efficient linkage of science and business. It contributes significantly to the GDP of economies where it is well developed and operational, for instance, The People Republic of China , South Korea, Italy ,Germany. Israel, USA,UK etc.
It enables the dynamic evolutions of desired technologies and commercialization of innovations. SPs can steer the development of a dedicated technology businesses and fast tract the development of incubators and SMEs as well adding value to regional/national academic outputs and inputs.
The base industries such as iron & Steel, petroleum & petrochemicals, sugar industry, pulp & paper and numerous research and academic institutions coupled with natural endowment provide enough impetus for SPs evolution in Nigeria. However, it takes about 10-15 years for science park to achieve maturity and make positive imparts on the economy.
Consistent policy and investment in Science, Technology and Innovation(STI) programs could reposition Nigerian towards achieving its 7-point agenda and vision 20: 2020 .
(i) FMST(2007):The Development of viable science parks in Nigeria
(ii) Bindir U.B. (2007):National Workshop on Development of Science Parks in Nigeria,13-16 July 2009,Abuja,Nigeria.
(iii) Guoqing FU (2007):Development and planning design of science and Technology Parks.
(iv) Ekpiwhre G(2007) :Preface of the Development of Science parks in Nigeria.
(v) I.M(2007):Report of the First international Training Workshop on Planning, Building and Management of Science Parks in shanghai-Poeples Republic of China .
(vi) Nwaedozie I.M (2009): NOTAP in-house Seminar -Evolution and SWOT analysis of the emerging science and Technology Parks (STPs) in Nigeria.
(Vii) Anie-Osuagwu C.M. (2006):Managing Innovation Spin-off firms(2001-2004).A case study of University of Manchester Science Parks,UK.
(6) International Association of science Parks(IASP),2009.