Brain power

09 September 2019


Blog by Elaine Lima de Souza – Ph.D. in Sciences

“It is to learn or die!”

Science and education were never so important for country development as now. With the advent of information technology, we need to deal with the Darwinism technological, adapt to survive. As the author Edward D. Hess says: It is to learn or die! The globalization and rapidly evolving technologies make what you have learned today in obsolete information tomorrow. Innovative technology companies have a new strategy to keep up-to-date and innovating: to foster Brain Power. They are migrating to where the knowledge is, in the Science and Technology Parks (STPs).

brain power

Let’s start with a brief overview of the industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution starts at the end of the 18th century, where the industry changes from manual to mechanized, it was the time of the steam machine and water power. The second revolution happens at the start of the 20th century with electricity and mass production. The third revolution at the early 1970s was the introduction of electronics, information technology, and telecommunication. Then, we arrive at our times, the 4th industrial revolution, “the age of information”, the total automatization of machines. The emerge of knowledge in nanotechnology, neurotechnology, genetic engineering, robots, biotechnology, sustainable energy, drones, and 3D printing. It was the beginning of the global knowledge economy where new science-based industries begin to have an important role in social and economic changes. The fourth revolution is not moved by water power, but by Brain Power.


“The universities have a crucial role in the actual economy. They are the factories of human capital.”

The article, The Knowledge Economy, from Walter W. Powell and Kaisa Snellman from Stanford University, has a very interesting example of theoretical knowledge as a source of innovation. Consider the automobile manufacturing economy, the icon of the “old” Fordist. A new car today is less and less the product of metal fabrication and more a smart machine that uses computer technology to integrate safety, emissions, entertainment, and performance. We can say that the knowledge economy is a system around intellectual capital, Brain Power.

The universities have a crucial role in the actual economy. They are the factories of human capital. Universities need to modernize to attend the needs of this globalized and fast-paced innovation times. The new industry is changing the workforce from a professionalized specialist to a multidisciplinary professional prepared for the challenges that will come with the technology age.

Now, let’s focus on how firms can get the advantage of Brain Power to keep innovating, and competitive, in a globalized market.

If a company needs water power to work, it probably will be located close to the water source. In the context of the modern economy, we would forecast that companies should be close to Brain Power. Science and Technology Parks (STPs) concentrates Brain Power, therefore it is where innovative companies are going.

In the 1950s was created the world’s first STPs, a cooperative venture between Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto. STPs are a complex organization where private companies, university, and government can work together. It promotes innovation and commercialization of technology, in an organized, planned and managed manner.

STPs are not only a “place to be” for former companies but also the creation center of new enterprises in the shape of startups and spinoffs. In order it be possible, makes necessary the right infrastructure stimulating business incubation that assists scientists and entrepreneurs to test their ideas, accelerating startups, and assistance of financial partners (venture capital firms), and patent laws offices.

STPs are the engines of innovation. Harmony and organization are necessaries for the proper functioning of the area and the fruitful benefits for the community and the country. STPs are not only beneficial for firms but all community can benefit. It encourages students to remain in the local area, creates jobs for the local community, and stimulates the atmosphere for knowledge spillover. It is the knowledge economy moving countries to social and economic development.

Today there are over 400 STPs spread globally. Silicon Valley (USA), Research Park Ideon (Sweden), Technopark Campinas (Brazil), Technopolis of Sofia-Antipolis (France), Hightech Park Bangalore (India), and Research Park in Kyoto (Japan) are some examples of successful STPs. Leiden Bio Science Park and Utrecht Science Park are leading biotechnology innovation centers in the Netherlands. The collaborative environment at STPs and the amount of Brain Power can be pointed out as the secret sauce for its success.

Brain Power is the most valuable asset of a firm and the treasure of any society.

“I hope that key opinion leaders from developing countries can also understand it, and start giving value for their most precious resource, their people, and their knowledge.”

Elaine Lima de SouzaElaine Lima de Souza, Contributor: I’ve spent a decade working in science. I have an MSc and Ph.D. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and three years postdoc at Erasmus MC. I worked with rare diseases and molecular diagnostics. From thyroid physiology to cancer. I’m an award-winning scientist with 14 international peer-review publications. Moreover, I’m passionate about reading fiction and non-fiction books and share ideas. All of my articles reflect my personal views. Read other blogs from Elaine Lima de Souza.

Image from Shutterstock
References: (1) Walter W. Powell and Kaisa Snellman. The Knowledge Economy. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2004 30:199-220.
(2) Edward D. Hess. Learn or Die. Columbia University Press. 2014.


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