Building the critical mass for STPs in small countries: The Namibian experience.
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Building science & technology parks (STPs) requires a critical mass of research institutions and innovative companies as well as a significant number of innovative emerging companies. Companies in small developing countries such as Namibia face numerous challenges stifling their potential growth and preventing them from becoming suitable tenants of an STP. Given this environment, the implementation of the Science & Technology Park at the Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC) was planned as the last step of a staged rollout of programmes targeting entrepreneurs and SMEs across the country in a first and a business incubator as a second step. These steps are designed to build a critical mass of innovative start-up companies that eventually ’graduate’ from programmes and incubator to move into the STP. At the same time, NBIC is partnering with existing technology companies that are interested in moving into the STP. A key motivation here is that the STP will develop training programmes for employees and graduates in industry-relevant skills leading to industry certification. The first phase of implementation already exposed a wide array of challenges for entrepreneurs and existing SMEs as well as a need to focus stronger on rural areas to support entrepreneurs there. We report on the status of implantation and the lessons learned in creating a critical mass for a sustainable STP in Namibia.