Technoparks are believed to promote economic growth and generate value by enhancing the ability of its tenants —high technology firms — to survive and grow in a very competitive environment. Nevertheless, there is conflicting evidence regarding the actual effectiveness of technoparks. As regards Kazakhstan, it differs from developed countries in that most of its R&D activities are carried out by public organizations rather than businesses. No noticeable shift towards firm-based R&D occurred during the 1990s. This fact reflects that Kazakh technoparks do not really act as vehicles for the commercialization of new technologies.
The results of the analysis pursued in the paper (using data from firm survey and interviews in Kazakhstan) suggest that, unlike what is assumed in the innovation policy literature, in this country, technoparks firms are no more innovative than other firms. They are oriented largely towards the local market, and operate in traditional sectors; the frequency and intensity of their external links are more developed than are their internal links. The key motivations for relocating to a technopark seem to be lower rents and the possibility of accessing finance. Overall, Kazakh technoparks seem to be successful in terms of facilitating business incubation, but much less so in terms of innovation promotion and diversification of the economy. Currently, Kazakh industry does not make any demands for local R&D, and its sources of competitiveness lie in non-R&D activities. This suggests that innovation policy should focus on assisting companies to upgrade their technological capabilities to the level that they can articulate their R&D demands. Focusing on technoparks as the main mechanism to improve competitiveness and diversify the economy is an ineffective and uncertain a policy option at this stage of the country’s economic development. However, there seems to be significant scope for supporting business incubation. These conclusions are of relevance to other emerging economies.
Full text of the paper is available at: http://www.ssees.ac.uk/publications/working_papers/wp66.pdf, Economics Working Paper No. 66.