What is the Deal with Science Parks?

While many people are foreign to the concept of science parks, they are undeniably important. They have impacted lives in incomprehensible ways, mostly unknown to the average consumer. In North America alone, there are over 380,000 workers in science parks, but the purpose still seems to be unknown. But I’m going to walk you through their importance so that you may appreciate them (or start one of your own).

What is a Science Park?

Essentially, a science park is a piece of land, often on a university grounds, that plays host to a huge variety of science and technology research facilities. The idea is that clumping researchers in a similar area can cross the information between sciences or lead to collaborations. Sometimes they can inspire each other to bread innovation.
There are science parks all over the world, though primarily in developed countries. There are far too many to list here, but the amount is surprising. Here in Europe, there are hundreds of science parks.
The first university research park was started in the 1950s near Stanford University. Do you know what that is called today? Silicon Valley. Having placed technology research facilities together has brought mankind into the forefront for computer technology. Without the science park there, we may not have the technology we have today. The Internet was launched there. What would the world look like today without the internet?
Sometimes the parks are just helps for startup businesses, allowing universities to use new companies to help them do work, while giving them the space to do their own personal research and business.

What is an Advantage of a Science Park?

Innovation breeds innovation. By putting together people who all have a common type of goal, perhaps curing a disease or building a super computer, but who are in slightly different fields, the innovations of one research group will inspire another. This can have a ping pong affect until something remarkable is produced. Keeping like-minded people together who are working toward a goal can only encourage that goal to be successfully reached.

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How Can Science Parks Change the World?

Outside of the great things that have already been produced from science parks, they are now changing the world in new ways. Innovation breeds the need to create sustainability; either through products, foods, or energy, innovation will attempt to help change the world.
The Hong Kong Science Park, for example is dedicated to the latest green technology and building design. They are working together to eliminate carbon emissions and create sustainable construction. This kind of collaboration is a catalyst to innovation and the further development of creating sustainable technologies. This of course, can only improve the direction the world is going in, by aiding in eliminating pollution and carbon footprints.
Here in Austria, not far from Villach, we have the Lakeside Science and Technology Park, which hosts researchers from the Austrian Institute of Technology, Aplen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (working in electronic services), AMSC Austria (working on environment and energy as well as engineering), the Institute of Ecology, and so many more. We are working together as a research unit to drive further innovation into creating sustainable sciences for the world.

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What Else?

Be thankful that science parks exist. There are so many researchers driven for a common purpose that change our lives daily. It’s a thankless job; no one knows who you are specifically or how you contributed to a project, but the researches are dedicated nonetheless, knowing that whatever contribution they give will actually help create something worthy of dreams.

Most Sustainably Innovative Companies

Sure, Forbes may come out with a list every year highlighting which companies they consider to be the most innovative. But those innovations may not be the safest for the world. And as we are working toward ensuring our children have a planet here tomorrow, we should be focusing not simply on which company was the most innovative, but which company is using innovation to create a sustainable model for the plant. With that, we have compiled our own list.

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  • Tesla Motors, Inc. is a public American automotive company that designs, manufactures, and sells electric cars and components. Tesla created the first fully electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster. With their innovation, Tesla is making electric cars desirable, which means more people are wanting them over the standard fossil-fuel consuming car. More electric cars, means fewer emissions.

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  • Levi Strauss is known for its blue jeans. Worn by consumers world-wide, Levi is not just an American standard. But now the clothing giant is using plastic bottles to account for 20% of each garment. By recycling plastic products and putting them into products consumers purchase anyway, Levi is changing the world.

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  • Apple is changing the world in more ways than one. Known for not just its computers, but the maker of both iPods and iPhones, Apple has made its mark on the world. But it also has pledged to be a 100% sustainable company, including ensuring its overseas manufacturers are sustainable. In order to do that, they have begun projects in China, where some of their manufacturing takes place, to build solar and wind farms, making their manufacturers more sustainable. Apple has  definitely shown they care not just about the environment, but keeping their pledge.

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  • Braskem is a petrochemical giant in Brazil. While plastic is traditionally made from petroleum, Braskem has taken another approach: producing plastic from sugarcane. Sugarcane is Brazil’s natural resource and is readily available there. Producing plastic with sugarcane captures up to two tons of CO2 for each ton of plastic produced. And they also created a line of renewable plastic shopping bags as well as packaging.

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  • Patagonia is an American clothing company that focuses on high-end outdoor wear. But outside of clothes, the company is also making their footprint (or lack of carbon footprint) by its $20 Million & Change, an internal venture that is putting its money into sustainable start-up companies. They are focusing on companies who offer sustainable solutions for food, water, energy, and waste, but nothing is out of the question as long as it saves the world. As Patagonia’s profits have steadily increased, they are giving it back in the best way possible.

While not everyone can save the world and we all want to do our part to change the world, it is refreshing to know that companies who are in a position of power are not just working on their own profits, but are taking into account the future of the world. And this is just a taste of corporate innovation; there is more good being done out there.

We can be jaded and just say that these companies are doing sustainable actions in order to put themselves in a position to be called a “good” or “trustworthy” company, but in the end it does not matter. The result is that these companies are saving the planet, even if it means extra money in their pocketbook, the result is too important to ignore.

Innovation in Villach, Austria

We often go unnoticed on the global level. But, here in Villach, we are more than just a small alpine town. Some people know us as part of the alpine arc; an important traffic junction for southern Austria as well as the entire Alpe-Adria region. But this is not the most important thing about the city of Villach; we were also the first city to be awarded the Alpine Town of the Year award due to our implementation of the Alpine Convention.
I know to some that may also not be reason enough to put Villach on the map. But really, the Alpine Convention is pretty important.

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What is the Alpine Convention?

On the outside, it may look just like a treaty for the entire Alps area. But it’s more than that. The treaty is pushing all of the countries of the Alps, not just Austria, to protect the environment and ensure the Alps are still there for many generations to come. The preservation efforts are working on:

Population and Culture
Spatial Planning
Air Pollution
Soil Conservation
Water Management
Conservation of Nature and the Countryside
Mountain Farming
Tourism
Mountain Forests
Transport
Energy
Waste Management

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Why is Villach Important?

Villach was the first of all of the cities and the towns to make good on their pledge for environmental conservation. By concentrating on sustainable development, Villach was the first innovator to make sure that not only the people living in the Alps, but tourists who want to experience the Alps, will be able to continue to enjoy the breathtaking and awe-inspiring scenery here.
Not to mention, our university has offered a Masters in Sustainability for many years. With our program, Villach is continuing to pass along the information and expertise of giving a future to the Alps.
Villach is also a huge base for business. Companies here are full of highly qualified, international workers bringing cooperation platforms for education and research facilities.
What Else is Great Here?
Sure, there may be some places in the Alps that are more “picturesque,” but none will be as central as Villach. Because we are the gateway to the Alpine Arc, you can stay with us and enjoy the sights here, as well as our outstanding hospitality, and still visit so many surrounding countries easily.
We do have plenty to see and do here too. We have our share of museums and galleries, like our Villacher Fahrzeugmuseum (Villach Automobile Museum) and Relief Von Kärnten (relief model of Carinthia, our beautiful region). Our town is also rich in history, with our Stadtpfarrkirche St Jakob (St. Jacob’s Cathedral) in old town. The cathedral is full of beautiful frescoes and a gold lead altar. We also have an extremely unique sight in the summer. A pair of falcons nest each year in the Stadtpfarrturm. We even follow the birds on their life with a closed-circuit TV screen from the café across the street.

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Really Why Should You Visit?

Unless you want to miss out on one of the most innovated cities in Europe (and the world), you should come to see Villach and experience the Alps firsthand. Thanks to our pledge to the environment, they’re still here to see. Dedication to sustainability should never go unnoticed; it is the researchers and consumers who care about creating renewable resources that will save the planet for generations to come. The Alps alone will inspire anyone to want to keep them around. Let’s not let them be destroyed through careless pollution and carbon emission. We have the ability to save the Alps and we have to do so.