Science parks in Ukraine
Author: Myroslava Hladchenko
“The science park is conceived as a mechanism by which academic researchers might commercialize their outputs, or where firms might locate in order to access academic expertise and research results.” (Quintas, Wield and Massey 1992:162). Science parks originated in the USA in the 1950s with the first science park being established in Stanford, California. In many European countries it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that a significant number of science parks were established (Storey and Tether, 1998). Science parks are usually based around universities and and the idea of a science park was to provide an infrastructure of technical, logical, as well as administrative help that a young firm needs (Guy 1996). In most cases the science parks were established to stimulate economic development of the region.
Ideas about knowledge transfer and collaboration between universities and business were brought into the political discourse in Ukraine by people from academia. In 2004-2006 the National Technical University of Ukraine “Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (NTUU ‘KPI’)” participated in the TEMPUS project called ‘Bridging the gap between University and business’. The TEMPUS (Trans-European Mobility Program for University Studies) is a program that encourages higher education institutions in the EU Member States and partner countries to engage in structured cooperation through the establishment of ‘consortia’. In TEMPUS project ‘Bridging the gap between University and business’ beside NTUU ‘KPI’ several other European higher education institutions were involved Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), the Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden) and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain).
As a consequence of participation in this project the Science Park ‘Kyivska Polytechnika’ was established in Ukraine in 2006 (President of Ukraine, 2006). Mykhailo Zgurovskyi, the rector of the NTUU “KPI”, considered the science park as an example of the implementation of the ‘Triple Helix’ by Henry Etzkowitz. The rector started a major discussion in the Ukrainian press on the knowledge economy of Europe and on the central role of research universities and science parks in building a knowledge economy (Zgurovskyi 2005; 2006). He declared that Ukraine should build its economy not on foreign borrowings but on the development of its science and knowledge-based economy. The country should invest in the development of high-tech products. This discussion resulted in some major changes in legislation on higher education in Ukraine. In 2006, the science park ‘Kyivska Polytechnika’ was granted permission to open a bank account. This was a major development, because according to the previous Ukrainian Law on Higher Education universities were not allowed to have bank accounts. Before the legislative change, all the money Kyivska Polytechnika received, for example tuition fees, was required to be sent to the State Treasury and then the university needed permission to spend the earned income.
In 2009 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the Law on Science Parks (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 2009). In 2010 the state approved the compulsory criteria of the fourteen research universities which were to be created in Ukraine. One of these compulsory criteria for research universities was the establishment of a science park. The expectation of the government was that in five years’ time universities will start to earn half of the amount that the state allocated to them annually for research. However, there were a lot of hurdles to be taken before the science parks could function effectively. First of all, the government did not develop the mechanisms and conditions necessary for the development of knowledge transfer in the economy. Secondly, the tax system did not motivate business to participate in knowledge transfer. Thirdly, the legislative basis that protects intellectual property was rather weak. To add, it was not popular among Ukrainian business to invest money in research and cooperate with universities as has been common elsewhere in Europe. It was necessary to breed such a culture among representatives of Ukrainian business. Despite these hurdles, research universities such as Taras Shevchenko National Universities of Kyiv and National Technical University of Ukraine “Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” managed to organize knowledge transfer through science parks. For example, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv started to earn income through science parks in 2012. By 2013 the income earned by Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv through external sources i.e. international grants, consultancy and science parks was equal to 22.9% of the state funding allocated for the research conducted by this university (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, 2014). Achievements of the science park “Kyivska Politechinca” were stimulated by collaboration with the IT outsourcing companies which operate in Ukraine, for example CISCO and NetCracker.
As we see from these examples, the successful functioning of science parks in Ukraine depends on various factors. Foremost, the state needs to be willing to develop knowledge-based economy and secondly, the state needs to be able to create beneficial conditions for the knowledge transfer between universities and business to bridge the gap between university and industry.
Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (2009). Law of Ukraine on Science Parks.
Guy, I. (1996) A look at Aston science parl, Technovation, 16(5), pp.217-218.
Quintas,P., D.Wield and D.Massey (1992) Academic-industry links and innovation: questioning the science park model. Technovation, 12:3, 161-175
President of Ukraine (2006). Law of Ukraine on Science Park “ Kyivska Polytechnika”
Storey, D. and B. Tether (1998). Public policy measures to support new technology based firms in the European Union, Research Policy, 26, 1037-1057.
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (2014). Annual Report.
Zgurovskyi, M. (2005) Ukraine still has chance. http://gazeta.dt.ua/EDUCATION/ukrayina_sche_mae_shans.html. Accessed 25 April 2015.
Zgurovskyi, M. (2006). Research Universities: Chance for Europe. http://gazeta.dt.ua/EDUCATION/doslidnitski_universiteti_shans_dlya_evropi.html. Accessed 19 November 2014.
About Myroslava Hladchenko
Myroslava Hladchenko, Candidate of Sciences in Education (2008), associate professor (docent) at the Faculty of Education and Humanities National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine. Myroslava participated as a visiting scholar in MARIHE program (2013) and had visits as an invited researcher to the International Centre for Higher Education Research-Kassel, University Kassel (2015) and Observatory of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lausanne (2015).