The potential of science and technology parks (STPs) to foster diverse innovative technologies and transform them into successful business enterprises that can benefit society was deliberated upon at the 20th annual conference of Asian Science Park Association (ASPA). This is the first time the conference was held in India.
The conference sought to facilitate strong linkages between India and Asia-Pacific countries and their stakeholders in science and technology for cross border exchange of ideas and technologies. Dr Hiroshi Uchida, President, ASPA, urged partners to leverage on the newly acquired Special Consultative Status of ASPA with the United Nations. “I believe this will help us in taking our science park to the global platform,” he said.
Close to 150 industry experts from 11 countries congregated to hear from 30 top management industry experts. Plenary discussions, panel debates and case studies delivered practical insights on where the STP ecosystem is heading to, how STPs should look beyond the conventional government-supported R&D model which is limited in scope and budgets. Some of the case studies illustrated how science parks are playing an important role in the economic development of Taiwan and how unique public private partnerships in South Korea have helped local companies with high growth potential.
The conference had technical sessions on cutting-edge issues in this space and leaders in the industry explored in-depth issues pertaining to science and technology parks for start-ups, translational research platforms and challenges and opportunities in public-private collaborations in Asia.
Dr H Purushotham, CMD, National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), said that the Government of India realizes the importance of Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) and STPs for creating wealth and employment. “All departments have been instructed to create such platforms. NRDC identifies potential R&D outcomes, evaluates it for market potential and helps in its licensing,” he said.
The importance of fostering innovation was reiterated by Dr Krishna M Ella, CMD, Bharat Biotech International Limited and Ms Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chairperson and CEO, ICICI Knowledge Park (IKP), Hyderabad. Mr Ram Kaundinya, Independent Board Member, Syngenta India and Axis Bank, said that technologies should get commercialized for the common person to benefit and that STPs have a major role in making this happen. “The policy environment should be futuristic and non-bureaucratic and the role of private sector in driving innovations is important,” he said.
Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, urged all stakeholders to leverage on their synergistic expertise to promote demand-driven innovations to address the needs of the society. “I urge such partnerships to keep in mind the need for addressing global challenges which include poverty, malnutrition, hunger and the looming challenge of climate change as part of their strategic interventions,” he said.
Technical tours to ICRISAT, IKP, T-Hub and Gubba Cold Storage offered avenues to understanding the operations and success of Indian STPs and Business Incubators. The conference titled – Innovation sharing and collaborative opportunities in Science & Technology for advancement in Asia & Asia Pacific – was organized jointly by ICRISAT and the Hyderabad Visitors Convention Bureau (HCVB) in India from 19-22 October. The ICRISAT team was led by Dr Kiran K Sharma, Theme Leader – Agribusiness and Innovation Platform, Innovation Systems for the Drylands Program; and Chairman of the ASPA-2016 Organizing Committee.
The next ASPA annual conference will be held in Vietnam.