SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARKS AND SOCIALLY ENGAGED UNIVERSITIES TOWARDS INNOVATION: EVIDENCES FROM SÃO PAULO - BRAZIL
The theoretical contribution of this paper consists in understanding Science and Technology Parks (STPs) and Socially Engaged Universities as policies that together, among other objectives, target regions’ innovative development triggered by university-industry synergies that both of them claim to incentivize. In this sense, we argue regions that rely on STPs performing their mission of fostering economic structural changes, which requires a more qualified workforce provided by entrepreneurial technological universities that in fact exists in these same regions, would benefit from the triple helix synergy type of innovative environment and would experience among different impacts an increasing on innovative products and processes. To investigate this phenomenon empirically with the theoretical lens of studies that explain the third mission of universities and the role of STP both in regions’ academic and innovative developments, we investigate São Paulo (Brazil) regions which count on:
(i) STPs supported by a policy named São Paulo Science Park System (SPSTP), and
(ii) a specific type of technological university named Sao Paulo State Technological College (FATEC).
Based on mixed methods of convergent type the following research problem was unveiled: whether and how STPs accredited by the SPSTP are causing the increasing of innovative process and products in regions that also count on FATECs? To answer this research question we applied Differences in Differences Methodology to infer if STPs definitely accredited by SPSTP and FATECs are causing patenting to increase in those regions. The comparison groups emerged from the criteria applied by this regional policy to accredit cities.
All of them would hold the necessary conditions to have STPs, but one group (the treatment) already counts on STPs and FATECs operating and the second one (the contrafactual) is temporally accredited for being in a STP implantation process. Thus, we assume that, if this policy selection is correct, any difference over time between these two groups in parallel tendencies would be explained by the synchronized operation of STPs and FATECs in the same territory. Simultaneously official documents from SPSTP were coded to identify patterns indicating incentives to university-companies synergies to enhance innovation. As a result, our evidence shows no such impact, thus STPs accredited by the SPSTP together with FATECs are not impacting cities’ expansion of patents. Perhaps this can be explained by the weak incentives given by the SPSTP toward this result. In fact, the legal documents analyzed demonstrated that although STPs are been considered in Brazil a public policy able to foster innovative development, this policy was not designed in a way to incentivize its STPs to attract and to promote the adequate synergy with local students. FATECs on the other side seem to be also failing to take the STP advantage to better engage socially in terms of innovative development, according to interviews performed. Future researches are needed to deeply investigate each STP and their own incentives to involve FATECs students. For now, it is only possible to conclude a redesigning need in SPSTP to adjust it to the objectives expected by STPs engaging with specific universities like FATEC toward a more innovative development of São Paulo Federal State’s cities.