Anthony Townsend, Institute for the Future
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Institute for the Future
Rick Weddle, Research Triangle Foundation
IFTF Report Number SR-12361
The model of self-contained research parks and incubators that dominated the last fifty years of technology-based economic development is being challenged by deep shifts in the global economy, science and technology, and models of innovation. This paper describes fourteen emerging trends that will set the context for technology-based economic development in the coming decades. These trends are used to develop three scenarios for the future of technology- based economic development over the next two decades. In the first scenario, an incremental evolution of the research parks model takes place in a world of rapid, but steady and predictable change. In the second scenario, entirely new networks of R&D space emerge in a “research cloud” that challenges current models to adapt, sometimes dramatically. The third scenario, the research park models is in rapid decline as R&D becomes highly virtualized and parks’ legacy cost structure makes them obsolete for young firms. We conclude by highlighting the strategic implications of these scenarios for existing and future parks and economic development.