Role of science parks in the development of technology-based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia
This thesis tests the widespread assumption that science park firms are more innovative and R&D-intensive resulting in greater innovation output, growth and profitability than off-park firms. Science parks are supposed to provide a value added environment to enhance innovation and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and facilitate commercialisation of technologies. Based on an extensive literature review of firm-level innovation and role of science parks, the study investigates a set of fifteen hypotheses based on R&D and non-R&D variables. The hypotheses were tested against data from two independent but comparable sample groups of firms obtained from a longitudinal survey of technology-based SMEs from Malaysian science parks and off-park locations in 2002. The science park sample contained 22 firms drawn entirely from Technology Park Malaysia. The off-park sample comprised of 30 firms. Data obtained from these sampled firms were analysed using statistical techniques such as t tests and chi-square to determine whether there are significant statistical differences between the two groups of firms with regard to the fifteen variables. The findings confirmed only four hypotheses, although overall science park firms appeared to perform better than off-park firms in all the variables, except in international research collaboration. There were no statistically significant differences between science park and off-park firms with regard to ten variables: R&D expenditure, R&D thrust, collaboration with universities, exports, access to venture capital, access to government grants, patents, copyrights, sales growth and profit ratio growth. Science park firms perform significantly higher only in employment of qualified scientists and engineers, inter-firm collaboration, launch of new products and processes, and employment growth. These findings question the rationale for making massive financial investments to build science parks. The study concludes that the science park strategy could be effective if the park management plays a more focused role in stimulating SME innovation.