Local News

RTP Lands First International Association of Science Parks Meeting in U.S.

Posted June 30, 2006 7:12 a.m. EDT

— The International Association of Science Parks has never met in the United States - until 2009. And Raleigh will be the host.


Research Triangle Foundation

of N.C. said earlier this week that it would host the IASP's annual World Conference in 2009 as RTP nears its 50th anniversary.

RTP covers more than 7,000 acres, and more than 37,000 people now work there.

"We think it's a really a positive development," said Rick Weddle, president and chief executive officer of the RTP Foundation who has been working for the group for two years, "We have been expanding our international footprint, we are now full members of the IASP, and we are increasing our engagements in their programs and activities.

"At the same time, we were thinking about our 50th anniversary foundation, and when the IASP put out a call for candidate proposals to host the conference we decided to put in a bid."

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the conference, Weddle said.

The conference could be of immense value not only for RTP but for the region, he added.

"We will try to benefit from the conference in several ways," Weddle explained. "One, it's a tremendous way for us to extend the RTP brand as certainly one of the oldest and largest science parks in the world.

"Secondly, this is the first time that a full IASP conference has taken place in the United States, and it will attract attendees from American research companies. This conference will provide an opportunity where you can go for two to three days and visit with and meet representatives of some of the best-value locations in the world from a science and intellectually property point of view.

"These representatives will get to see the Park, see the Triangle, and see many of the advantages we have to offer."

The IASP was founded in 1984 with the mission of assisting in the development of science and technology parks and encouraging growth in existing ones. It has representatives from more than 300 organizations in more than 65 countries.

The proposed venue for the conference is Raleigh's new 500,000 square foot convention center, which is currently under construction. The complex is expected to be finished by 2008.

The IASP's General Assembly selected Raleigh as the 2009 host at its recent conference in Finland.

"RTP is undoubtedly a leader in our industry and one of the best known Science Parks in the world," said Luis Sanz, the director general and CEO of the IASP. "We are confident that we will have a great and successful international conference, which will mirror the growing importance of research, science and technology parks as powerful tools for regional and local development within the context of the knowledge-based economy."

Dave Heinl, president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated that the conference would have an economic impact of $600,000.

"An ideal way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of RTP," Heinl said in a statement.

The IASP will have its annual meetings in Barcelona, Spain in 2007 and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2008.

The RTP Foundation was founded when the Park was created in 1959.