Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Research parks: best configuration?

Here are a couple of recent BusinessWeek articles on business parks and their role as drivers of economic growth. The first article touts Research Triangle Park as an attractive model for research parks. I live a few minutes away from RTP and attend MBA classes in the park.

The second article is skeptical of the idea of siting a research park in the woods, and argues that research parks need to be part of larger, urban communities. Ideas for new products and companies are hatched when tech workers can easily bump into each other.

Being in and around RTP, I can vouch for the fact that it's hard to find people who are interested in new products and are willing to talk business. The layout of the park, with company campuses hidden behind security gates and trees, doesn't lend itself to meeting and talking with people.

The idea of cities as optimal places for innovation and technology development is laid out in detail in a great book I read recently, Who's Your City, by Richard Florida. Florida shows how important geography is for economic development, and shows that cities are increasingly becoming centers of economic development. Nice read, and a good perspective when talking about siting new research parks.

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