With a growing emphasis on developing clusters of innovation through public/private partnerships, universities have increased investment in technology centers and research parks. However, given the constraints placed on research parks in terms of financial and personnel resources, institutions need to be discerning in which technologies and companies they choose to back.
This has become particularly important as universities have increased their emphasis on the commercialization of public research and generating economic activity within their communities beyond simply spending money within them. With this responsibility in mind, research park offices must focus on creating efficiencies within their operations as to maximize the resources for supporting new enterprise.
Given the financial and personnel limitations that research parks face, automating the intake process is key to realizing efficiencies. With a wealth of opportunities and dramatic increases in applications for most research parks, relying on a paper-heavy system increases the risk of missing new opportunities and failing to act on new developments. As such, research parks need to embrace tools that allow for streamlining and standardization.
Using digital tools, research parks are able to define requirements for participation and intake by creating a standardized criteria list for applications. Standardizing the application process allows organizations to more effectively identify their opportunities and manage the process in a way that can scale with the size of the organization without requiring increases in staffing. These tools can be used to create a public-facing online portal for new submissions and applications. This is key, as a frictionless application process increases participation within the research park; historical data demonstrates that the more barriers to an submission process, the less submissions an organization can expect to receive.
Furthermore, these tools work to dramatically decrease the amount of data entry and paperwork needed during the intake process. This creates efficiencies for research park offices, as they are able to focus more attention on other tasks such as evaluations, measuring impact, and business development tasks.
As a result of their mission and goals, research parks must focus on automating and streamlining their intake process as a means of freeing up resources for actual research activity. Fortunately, many research park offices and universities have identified tools and perfected the best practices to digitize the research park office.