Managing the Industrial Territory in the Knowledge Era (MITKE) was a European Union supported project bringing together 11 partners from 10 European regions in 7 countries to identify and transfer best practice in the management and renewal of industrial parks. (The MITKE project was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and made possible by the INTERREG IVC Programme with contributions from the partners.)
The background to the MITKE project was rooted in the assessment and evidence that business and industrial parks (BAIPs) are a vitally important policy and planning instrument for local and regional development. In the last chapter we provided a general overview of the importance of BAIPS. In essence well planned and developed parks assist the location of industrial activities and industries in discreet areas helping to relieve congestion and pollution in metropolitan centres and create employment dense zones. Normally distant from central business districts and commercial centres these have lower comparable costs due to lower land and building costs. Often developed over a period, the business and industrial parks are usually able to provide a range of space (flexible and bespoke) suited to firms' needs and on a range of commercial bases (sold, rented leased).
Industrial parks differ from other industrial areas in that they offer a unified and managed space that gives good access to utilities, roads, waste and effluent treatment, common facilities, etc… as well as offering the opportunity for industries to cluster and gain advantage and complementarity. Industrial parks also tend to be more economically efficient and cost effective for SMEs as well as large and micro firms as land costs for such developments tend to shadow agricultural land prices rather than those associated with office or residential developments. Thus industrial parks have key positive externalities for enterprises in terms of costs structures as well as reductions in the negative externalities (e.g. congestion) associated with concentrations of business activities within the urban settings.
More recently there has been a renewal of interest in creating new agglomerations. Often this has been led to efforts to implant new poles of growth in old industrial regions whether as a process of regenerating sectors or attracting new growth sectors. This has led to the development of specialist business and industrial parks that can better cater to the needs of specific firms or sectors.
The evolution of Business Areas and Industrial Parks (BAIPs) into specialised spatial districts has captured the attention of planners and local development agencies. This has also been complemented by efforts to renew existing or more traditional industrial parks. Both have been part of the drive to attract new investment and stimulate business growth in the European regions.
THE MITKE PARTNERSHIP: FORMATION
Over the past 20 years, the Basque public sector developer SPRILUR has developed some 7.5 million m2 of industrial space. This hands-on experience has led them to reflect on the current and future challenges facing publicly managed industrial parks and to search out the best strategies and tools that could be used to improve such spaces. The MITKE project explicitly sought to identify the key issues facing business and industrial park managers, what they need to prioritise and plan for, and how they can improve their parks.
The project achieved this through harnessing the diverse experience base and synergies of its 11 partners, fostering the identification and exchange of good practices as well through anticipating emerging or developing challenges. MITKE thus seeks to exchange and transfer experiences and put in place tools for intervention that can be implemented by partners jointly or just working on their own.
Lead partner: the Basque Development Agency: SPRILUR, presented an outline of the idea for the MITKE project idea at the EU Interregional Cooperation Forum 2007 in Lisbon. Contacts and expressions of interest were collected, an invitation to partnership was placed on the INTERREG IV C website, and later direct invitations were sent to potential partners through a variety of channels (previous contacts, EURADA, and the Basque Government Delegation in Brussels).
Direct bilateral contact was maintained with interested parties to explain and develop the project's objectives and activities and strong and effective partnership group. The clear interest and enthusiasm of partners helped to further develop the project and programme of activities culminating in project preparatory meeting in Brussels, 5th December 2007. Potential partners discussed key ideas and helped to further refine and define the project by exchange of ideas leading to a final partnership and agreement on roles. Following the December meeting partners provided further information and drafts for the final Application Form submitted to the Interreg secretariat in Lille in January 2008.
The Interreg secretariat subsequently approved the MITKE project in September 2008.
THE PROJECT and PARTNERSHIP ACTIVITY
The MITKE project consists of 4 key components that will find and test best practice solutions and tools for intervention in the management and improvement of Business Areas and Industrial Parks (BAIPs) across Europe. The project's four integral strands of activity consist of the following components:
- Management and coordination of the partnership,
- Communication and dissemination of the partnership's work,
- Identification, analysis and exchange of good practice in the management and improvement of BAIPs, and
- Development and dissemination of innovative models of managing BAIPs and pilot implementing them.
In terms of the division of labour between the MITKE partners the following organisations led on the four components:
- Management and coordination - SPRILUR
- Communication and dissemination - Incasol,
- Identification, analysis and exchange of good practice -first, and
- Development and dissemination of innovative models of managing BAIPs and pilot implementation - Tecnalia.
In addition and integral to the MITKE project partnership an Advisory Panel was created to provide a repository of experience and advice to the partners on existing bodies of knowledge and know-how related to the BAIPs.
The project outcomes were for the partnership, (together with regional and local stakeholders), to gain the knowledge and develop the capacities to be able to make valuable advances in the management and improvement of the partner's BAIPs. At least 3 good practices (GP) were to be identified per region, with 6 of these to be transferred, as part of process of addressing specific local needs and regional policy priorities.
The project produced a collection of 41 GPs with policy recommendations for partners to consider. The partnership would share their knowledge gained in the project with the local and regional decision makers, and particularly around the process of producing Improvement Plans (1 per region, affecting 1 BAIP). The Improvement Plans were set to foster renewal of the management models for BAIPs, and specifically supporting the transformation of these areas and their capacity to assist SMEs in the industrial territories to boost innovation as well as become more sustainable on waste, recycling, transport and energy consumption issues.
The project also helped link partners into new thinking, new ideas and awareness of the latest international developments. For example Tecnalia economist Borja Izaola's recounted his experiences of China's new eco-industrial parks. These Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) are a new type of industrial organisation designed according to the principles of industrial ecology (IE). They are typified by zones where businesses cooperate with each other and the local community to reduce waste and efficiently share resources (such as information, materials, water, energy, infrastructure, and natural resources). EIPs establish a network of material and energy flows among enterprises. Eco-Industrial Parks are seen as part of a form of a larger phenomenon called industrial symbiosis-the exchange or sharing of resources made possible by geographic proximity.