This thesis aims to explore how technology parks may function as innovation policy. Ever since the mid 1980s technology parks have been widely applied as policy instruments across Europe, and there is nothing indicating that this policy is loosing its momentum. Although there have been many studies inquiring into the alleged effects of these parks, there is as far as I know, none which explicitly sets out to investigate these parks as innovation policy. In order to do this, I first examine the potential role of these parks as innovation policy in two generic classes of economic theories, respectively the neoclassical and evolutionary. I conclude that indeed according to these economic theories, the parks have potential as innovation policy, though they emphasise different areas. However, in order to further specify and explore the role of technology parks as innovation policy, I also identify four different approaches to innovation and relate these to technology parks. The four perspectives discussed are respectively; entrepreneurial studies, sector approaches, regional and national system approaches and management approaches. I also relate them to neoclassical and evolutionary economic theories, in order to shed some light on their theoretical foundation and rationale for innovation policy. A major conclusion is that although the four approaches differ in their relative emphasise on various actors and aspects in the innovation process, they overlap in their view on innovation as a complex social process involving many actors combing the use of both internal and external knowledge. It follows that an important function for technology parks in relation to innovation policy is to function as network builders for the on-park organisations. A key point however is that the parks need to differentiate and adjust their network building to the particular on-park firms. On the basis of the four approaches, five propositions about the technology parks as innovation policy are lined-out and discussed against the empirical data from the Technology Park of the Basque Country. The empirical data is based on 6 interviews with on-park organisations, an interview with the innovation manager of the park and a survey. It is argued that the evidence from the Technology Park of the Basque Country suggests that park does not really function as innovation policy the way prescribed by the four innovation approaches lined out, and that maybe this particular park is better understood as regional development policy rather than as innovation policy pr se.
Keywords: Technology parks, innovation theory and innovation policy