Science and Technology Parks, Which Model Should We Adopt?

Right after the ASEAN-US Science and Technology Fellowship started in May 2015, the government of Indonesia launched the development of 100 Science and Techno Parks (STPs) to supporting the new government’s nine-priority agenda called Nawacita. The science and technology parks are hoped to create and boost sustainable economic growth through the implementation of technology. The technology parks are also expected to serve as a platform to connect institutes of higher learning (academics), small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and industries (business), and government. I believe that this is the right moment to engage in Indonesia’s government through advancing science-based decision-making. For example, how can we give recommendation on how STP could contribute to regional economic development and facilitate the emergence of new technology-based companies. How can we utilize local economy, the local research base, and local partnerships among public and private stakeholders to enhance the success of STP?

Kick off of 100 Science and Technology Parks in Indonesia (source: www.kompas.com)

Up to 2013, there have been developed other 5 STPs in Indonesia: Bandung Techno Park, Solo Techno Park, and Cikarang Techno Park, Batam Technopark, and Palembang Technopark. Some STPs were initiated by the local government (Solo and Batam),University (Bandung and Solo), and Business Performer(Cikarang). Puspiptek, where I work at as a researcher and is located in Serpong (30 km for Central of Jakarta), is the oldest STP started in 1976. It is complex of 460 ha which was planned as a national platform to host public research institutes, knowledge based enterprises and their support facilities. According to the original plan, Puspiptek was expected to be part of the Science Based Industrial Park, which will be developed in Serpong. Unfortunately, this plan is still not implemented. Thus, there have been some concerns that not only Puspiptek, but also the other STPs above would not be successful. Many are doubtful that the 100 STPs will follow similar pathways. Some said that these 100 STPs are merely projects oriented and would never be sustainable. Then, what should we do to prevent an STP’s failure? What is the most appropriate model to adapt in development of successful and sustainable STPs in Indonesia?

At the moment, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), which is the agency that I work at, is responsible for development of 8 STPs. And through several meetings on STP development, I feel that Indonesian government needs to set out the right strategy and objectives of each new park, and consequently made the right decision on the best model for implementation. Perhaps we could learn from four STPS that are well known for their success. They are the Sophia Antipolis Technopole, Research Triangle Park, and two Cambridge Science Parks (The Cambridge Science Park and St John’sInnovation Park). EU study on these parks showed that there were essential components in the planning and development of any new STP venture (European Commission, 2013, Setting up, Managing, and Evaluating EU Science and Technology Parks). They include:

  • Setting out the strategy and objectives of the new park and deciding on the best model for implementation
  • Engagement of the knowledge base (university or other public sector research organization)
  • Interaction with the public sector at local/regional, national and regional level
  • Securing the land, capital and revenue to establish the STP and ensure its on-going growth
  • Assessing the nature of the local skill base
  • Addressing the availability of regional and national markets or corporate supply chains
  • Selecting the package of services to deliver to tenant companies and businesses in the wider economy
  • Deciding on the appropriate science park model
  • Selecting a strong leadership based on a board / committee structure that has good connections into the local economy (private and public) and a CEO with appropriate sector experience and strong leadership and management skills

Certainly, it is not an easy task to give some recommendation on STP’s development to the government, but my colleagues who involved directly in STP development and I were discussing some points, particularly relevant to the early stage of Indonesia’s STP development. These points would be given to the government of Indonesia in the near future as a policy brief. They include:

1)      Science and technology parks should be managed by professionals.

2)      The local economy, the local research base as well as public and private stakeholders should be linked as early as possible.

3)      Human resources should be developed especially locals and the youth.

4)      Its networking and programs, which are the mechanisms it employs to deliver the economic development gains, should be designed carefully.

5)      Program differentiation in the property market to attract and hold its client base should be managed to ensure STP sustainability.

6)      And in Indonesia, which has a comparative advantage being one of the megabiodiversity in the world, we need to put biodiversity in the core of the STP new bioeconomy.

A little remark on the last point related to biodiversity is the importance of policy recommendation on bioeconomy and the utilization of green technology. Indonesia is the largest crude palm oil producer in the world, and there is a growing critique of oil palm’s industry hurting biodiversity. Therefore, since the beginning of this fellowship, I decided to use palm oil industry as a real object for the target of my policy recommendation. Together with the other two Indonesian ASEAN-US fellows, we work on this issue through different angles according to our science and technology expertise. So far, I feel that our government needs to set a framework for a sustainable palm oil industry, as one of main bioeconomy in Indonesia. The palm oil bioeconomy should get ‘the economy right’ by reducing polluting emissions, increasing resource efficiency, preventing the loss of biodiversity and valuing ecosystem services.

With the completion of 65 STPs this year, and 35 parks in 2016, designing and reevaluation of STP early stage development are critical. Adopting STP model(s) suitable for current and projected future Indonesia’s ecosystem should be done as soon as possible. As these parks will be built in a number of regencies and cities in all provinces, variable STP models can be adopted in a flexible way with continuous evaluation since each STP would be unique in its own ecosystem. We hope that the 100 STPs are implemented seriously by all stakeholders involved. Therefore, STPs would be run successfully and sustainably to boost the national economy through the development and application of science and technology.

About the Author: Vanny Narita is 2014-2015 World Economic Forum Young Scientist New Champion and Special Staff at National Innovation Council of the Republic Indonesia (2010-2014), which is responsible to give recommendation on Science, Technology and Innovation to the President. Dr. Narita is a researcher and Special Staff to the Chairman of Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), Republic of Indonesia. She received her BSc in Biochemistry and Biology (double majors) in 1997 and PhD in Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology in 2002 from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA.Her research interests include valuable recombinant protein expression. She was Head of Molecular Biology Laboratory in 2002-2010, managing research activities including biopharming and infectious disease biosensor. In 2011, she joined National Consortium of Vaccines and Medicines in dengue and hepatitis B, working together with academia and pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Narita is EU FP7/Horizon 2020 national contact point for health, demographic change and wellbeing. She received several awards including Satya Lencana Karya Satya from President of Republic of Indonesia, for 10 years devotion in 2003, Satya Lencana Wira Kencana from President of Republic of Indonesia, for her dedication in dengue research in 2006.