The development of science parks is undoubtedly one of the main successes of the Wallonia economy. Six science parks spearhead the new technology development policy.
They cover a total surface area of 560 hectares, are very well situated geographically and have excellent motorway links. The central element of the system is the presence of large research units in each park. The main objective of the science parks is to ensure that research leads to new industrial activities, mostly in a «spin-off», a business company resulting directly from a research project.
The common objective of the six science parks which make up the SPoW (Science Parks of Wallonia) network is to encourage the establishment and development of companies which are oriented primarily towards high-technology, and to promote relationships between businesses and universities. Thus, it distinguishes itself from other parks or industrial areas through specific value-added services offered to the high-technology companies which set up there. Land and office buildings (usually rented) are made available to companies, along with highquality infrastructure.
The science park also provides «incubators» for new companies as well as a whole range of services (seminars, training, information about European programmes, call centres, etc.).
Wallonia began early: the first science park was set up in Louvain-La-Neuve in 1971. Five others were then added: Aéropole (Charleroi), Crealys (Gembloux), Initialis (Mons), Liege Science Park and Qualitis (Enghien). Each science park has its own speciality. The Louvain-La-Neuve science park is geared towards the life sciences, fine chemistry and information technology, the Liege park, towards biotechnology, aerospace and electronics, the Charleroi park towards aeronautics, biotechnology and information technology and the Mons park towards telecoms and new materials.