The 4th Industrial Revolution: global innovation ecosystem professionals prepare for the digital future at the 36th IASP World Conference in Nantes, France

The 4th Industrial Revolution affects our modern societies in myriad ways, as new economic, social, political, and environmental challenges emerge through new means of production. Its impact is felt across all sectors and communities, but areas of innovation and science parks are uniquely placed to ensure that its impact is sustainable for the economy and society as a whole.

The IASP World Conference brought together a powerful international network to shine a spotlight on all the ways in which innovation ecosystems can support their communities and regions as they move into the industry of the future. A global gathering of hundreds of delegates and speakers, leading government, business, academic and innovation figures from 54 countries, the last few days in Nantes have shown what can be achieved when innovators and innovation managers from across the world collaborate.

Hosted and organised by Atlanpole (Nantes, France) from September 24th – 27th September 2019 under the theme “The 4th Industrial Revolution: areas of innovation and science parks as key boosters for a successful transition”, the event offered new insights into how science parks and other areas of innovation can continue to lead their innovation communities (businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers and technicians) as well as their cities and regions into a digital future.

Held at the La Cité Conference Centre, the event showcased the flourishing innovation community in Nantes and across France, connecting the region’s historic maritime heritage with the 4th Industrial Revolution and the technologies of the future.

Network highlights

Opening Ceremony and keynote speaker

The event began with an impressive opening ceremony led by the IASP President, Paul Krutko (Ann Arbor SPARK, USA) who officially opened IASP’s 36th World Conference alongside IASP Director General Luis Sanz and Atlanpole CEO Jean-François Balducchi.

The keynote speaker was Alain Tropis (France), Head of Digital Design Manufacturing & Services at Airbus. He reflected on the evolution of the industry and the accelerating pace of change brought about by digital technologies, commenting “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

With the participation of other corporates such as Engie and Naval Group, innovative SMEs and fast-growing startups supported by science parks and areas of innovation, innovation ecosystem managers explored the impact of the 4IR on people and society, as well as the new roles and relevance of parks, innovation districts and areas of innovation.

The full programme is available on the conference website

IASP Inspiring Solutions

The gala dinner was held at the Chateau de Goulaine, one of the prestigious Châteaux of the Loire Valley, where IASP Director General Luis Sanz announced the winners of the IASP Inspiring Solutions Programme 2019, as voted for by IASP members.

The three winners are:

  • 1st place: Lakeside Science and Technology Park, (Klagenfurt, Austria, for “Digital Kindergarten – Lakeside IT Curriculum”
  • 2nd place: Science Park Tallinn Tehnopol, (Tallinn, Estonia): “Level 11 – New Level in Innovation”
  • 3rd place: Parque Tecnológico UFRJ, (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): “The Short Circuit Gallery of Public Art (Galeria Curto Circuito de Arte Pública)”

Inspiring Solutions is IASP’s knowledge-sharing initiative which gives global visibility to innovative ideas and best practices in science park and area of innovation management, and seeks to inspire other members. This year the programme attracted entries from across the world, 10 of which were shortlisted by an expert committee to go forward to the members voting round. Full details of the three winning entries are available at

Changes at IASP

The conference also gave IASP members from around the world the opportunity to say goodbye to IASP’s outgoing Director General Luis Sanz, who retires after 24 years of dynamic leadership. He is succeeded by Ebba Lund, currently IASP’s Chief Operations Officer, who will take up her post on October 1st.

2020 and 2021 IASP World Conference destinations

The IASP General Assembly was held on 26th September, where it was agreed that the association’s 2021 World Conference will be held in Silicon Valley, USA. Next year, IASP members will meet in Seville, Spain, for the 37th World Conference, which will be hosted and organised by PCT Cartuja.

About the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP)

IASP is the worldwide network of science parks and areas of innovation, founded in 1984. With members in 74 countries, IASP connects professionals managing science, technology and research parks (STPs) and other areas of innovation from across the globe, and provides services that drive growth and effectiveness for members.

IASP members enhance the competitiveness of companies and entrepreneurs in their cities and regions, and contribute to global economic development through innovation, entrepreneurship, and the transfer of knowledge and technology.

For further information about IASP, please visit 

IASP’s mission

To be the global network for science and technology parks and other areas of innovation, driving growth, internationalisation and effectiveness for our members.

Main facts and figures

Founded: 1984                                                 Companies: >115,000

Members: 350                                                   Countries: 74

Regional divisions: 7

African Division – Asia Pacific Division – European Division – Eurasian Division –

Latin American Division – North American Division – WANA (West Asia North Africa Division)

World Headquarters: Malaga, Spain                   Branch office: Beijing, China

About Atlanpole

The conference was organised and hosted by Full IASP member Atlanpole.

As the innovation hub, technopole and BIC (Business and Innovation Centre) for the Greater Nantes economic and University area, Atlanpole plays a key role within the main multidisciplinary area of innovation in Western France. Atlanpole is accredited by the French Ministry of Research as the science-based business incubator for the whole region Pays de Loire. It fosters the emergence, creation and development of innovative companies, of startup companies and of small and medium sized


For additional information please contact:

Harriet Edwards

Communications and Events Officer

Telephone: +34 952 028303

Fax: +34 952 020464


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