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High technology policy in the Alpes-Maritimes and in British Columbia: Two cases of adapting regional economies to globalization

  • Year: 2003
  • Author: van den Hoven, Adrian
  • Journal Name: Journal of Canadian Studies
  • Journal Number: Vol.37, No.4
  • Publisher: Trent University
  • Published Location: Peterborough, Canada
  • Country: France, Canada
  • State/Region: Alpes-Maritimes, British Columbia

The main problem with building Sophia Antipolis, however, did not lie in the different conceptions of the A-M departmente and Pierre Lafitte, but in the geography of the region. The A-M is a big department that consists mainly of a mountainous region that is difficult to access. The population is concentrated largely along the coastline between Monaco, Nice and Cannes, whose large tourism industry and urban sprawl have made the price of land too high to develop a technology park along the coast. Therefore, in 1968, the A-M suggested that the park be built on a empty plateau 20 kilometres west of Nice. The plateau had almost no infrastructure, which meant everything needed to develop the site (roads, sewage systems, telecommunications and electricity infrastructure) had to be provided. This fact proved to be a major constraint on the development of the park; the AM authorities could not afford to take on such an expensive project (Longhi and Quere 221). . [Lafitte] and the A-M authorities needed to convince the state to finance the initial infrastructure for the park.11 At the time, the French regional development agency DATAR was busily creating industrial parks throughour France "To prepare sites for firms who were expected to leave Paris" ([Le Gales], "Regional" 75). Consequently, the DATAR was open to the plans of the A-M departemente to creata an industrial park, and in 1972 it began building Sophia Antipolis. Throughout most of the 1970s, Sophia Antipolis developed along the lines of the A-M and the DATAR's vision of an industrial park whose main objective was to lure subsidiaries of large French and foreign companies into the region. During this, period, Sophia Antipolis did not become a learning park; very few public-research institutions located there. Only Pierre Lafitte's l'Ecole des mines was opened on the site in 1976, followed in 1978 by a business school (CERAM) funded by the Chamber of Commerce. The University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, which as supposed to transfer from Nice to the park, never did. This struck a major blow to Lafite's dream of creating a learning park.

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