US entrepreneur plans science parks in Europe

A United States entrepreneur is attempting to set up European versions of the successful science parks he has established in Utah and Tennessee. Wayne Brown, a University of Utah professor and chairman of a company called Tran Tek that has a stake in the two US science parks, says the climate in parts of Europe is ripe for transferring good technical ideas from research institutions to the commercial sector.

The American professor recently toured several European countries to look at possible sites for science parks. In Britain, he said he was impressed by possibilities in Cambridge, a city that has seen significant growth in small, high-technology companies, many of them associated with Cambridge University.

Professor Brown says such parks must be close to a university, which mustshow flexibility so that, for instance, research staff are free to take time off to work in industry. Financial institutions must be prepared to help fledgling companies. And such innovation centers are helped if there is already a concentration of companies that have had success in technology.

In any European venture Brown would attempt to replicate the pattern in the Utah and Tennessee projects. In the former, set up two years ago near the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Brown acted as orchestrator for some $8 million in investment in high-technology companies housed in the center.

The Utah Innovation Center, as it is called, acts as landlord for about 10 companies in areas such as medical products, telecommunications, and computers. The second park, close to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, is a state-owned institution run by Martin Marietta on behalf of the US Department of Energy.

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