Business
Kaunas IN.
2022 09 07
Aleksotas Innovation Park in Kaunas: a 74-acre argument for the future of innovative business in Kaunas

“Before we start talking about this potentially significant project for the city’s future, I should note that despite the official name – Aleksotas Innovation Industrial Park (AIIP) – the Innovation Park would be a more accurate name. It is the innovation and the higher added value it creates that is the main reason for the creation of this park. The development plan has clearly confirmed that the promotion of the creation and development of innovations make up the essence of this territory’s future,” Andrius Veršinskas, head of the business department of VšĮ Kaunas IN, comments on the significance and value of the innovation park in Kaunas.

 

The development plan of the Aleksotas Innovation Industrial Park in Kaunas, eagerly awaited by both investors and local communities, was presented at the Nemunas Hall of Žalgiris Arena, on August 23. During the presentation, in addition to urban development guidelines, very specific principles of park’s operation were discussed. They included the conditions for attracting tenants and investors and the set performance indicators.

 

As emphasized by Tadas Metelionis, director of Kaunas municipality’s administration, who delivered a welcome speech, the development plan is the most important park management document, a sort of constitution. An important goal was raised during its preparation: to create transparent rules that would not only allow investors to clearly understand the park’s development goals, directions, and rules for admission but also a system that would help to flexibly respond to the changing market conditions.

 

“Undoubtedly, Aleksotas Innovation Industrial Park is one of the city’s essential axes in the context of innovation promotion. We imagine it as a catalyst and a center from which innovative businesses with high added value, would begin their work,” T. Metelionis noted.

 

Cluster of innovators and innovative companies

 

Andrius Veršinskas, head of the business department of VšĮ Kaunas IN spoke about the current state of the innovation ecosystem in the city of Kaunas after expertly reviewing the situation. He briefly discussed how AIIP will look like in the context of Kaunas, what function it could perform not only on a city scale but also on a national scale, corresponding to a long-term challenge both for Kaunas, as well as for the whole of Lithuania: the transformation of the economy into a higher added value. “It should be a cluster of real innovators and innovative companies that, through cooperation and focus, will highlight the strengths of Kaunas and at the same time contribute to the fact that many talented and capable people will gather in one place and common points of contact will appear, thus further accelerating the creative processes of new innovations.”

 

The connection between the park and the city and putting the green areas to work

 

Živile Šimkutė, director of MASH Studio, the urban planning and architecture office that created the urbanistic vision of AIIP, pointed out that the analysis of similar types of territories abroad and discussions with potential investors made it possible to formulate development criteria and learn about how the technology companies themselves understand the innovation park. When developing a park, the emphasis is placed on consistency and a complexly developed quarter, an integral part of the urban fabric, where modern, ecological solutions, a friendly environment for employees, spaces for communication, exhibitions, and shared infrastructure are of great importance.

 

The history of the park’s location is special and symbolic. It is the former territory of the Kaunas fortress surrounded by the central fortification, where the innovations of that era were constantly taking place. During the period of independence, the Lithuanian aviation industry was born nearby, and after the war a helicopter factory was established, which gradually decayed and now, in the 21st century, the territory is resurrected with modern innovations and a new industry.

 

Out of the total 74-acre park area, 6 acres are for the hangar that is currently under reconstruction, almost 15 acres are occupied by the territory’s infrastructure, the project of which was prepared by Kauno planas engineers, who divided it into large quarters. Thus, the entire Aleksotas Innovation Park will offer the settlers and area of around 59 acres.

 

The idea of the planners of the urban study is to create a territory that would work within itself but at the same time would have a significant and positive impact on the surrounding areas and would do so through the green areas, which are very important in this territory. The aim is to let the culture and locals in and turn it into an impetus for the management of other surrounding areas.

 

For that purpose, guidelines were drawn up for companies coming to this area, emphasizing unified, systematic principles that would create a clear and easy-to-read structure, harmonious integration into Aleksotas life and would promote movement on foot, bicycles, and scooters in the area.

 

The architecture created by companies should be of high quality and consistent design and communication both between companies and with the community of the city should be encouraged by putting green areas to work.

 

The green corridors dividing the park are a very important part of the whole concept. Streets become a space for communication and corridors that are shared by the companies turn into a zone of communication and new synergies.

 

“Spaces could be of two types: active and passive. In some you can meditate or talk on the phone, in others you can play table tennis with your colleagues or have lunch together. The passive corridor is relevant not only for the park and the movement of its employees, but also for the city itself to flow into the territory of the park and move towards the warehouse complex where additional public spaces could be located,” urban planner Ž. Šimkutė said.

 

A 74-acre statement, “Innovative businesses – you are important to us!”

 

Kaunas City Municipality is the initiator of the AIIP project and the creator of its strategic vision. The project was approved by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania as an important economic project for the state. In the initial stage of the park’s operation, it will be managed by Kaunas City Municipality.

 

According to the vision of the plan, at least 25 companies should be operating in AIIP plots before 2048 as well as at least 230 companies in the hangar and office buildings. Over 2000 people should be employed and more than 100 million EUR investments attracted. The forecasted income of the operator is at least 24 million euro. The further investments by the operator in the development of public spaces, the acquisition of R&D infrastructure, an office building and a parking lot are predicted to cost around 15 million euro. The first investor is expected to settle in 2023.

 

As Justė Pačkauskaitė, director of UAB Civitta – which presented the development plan – observed, global practice shows that the popularity and success of similar industrial parks is usually determined by one of two things. Either the park has strong connection with a specific university, or its value is increased through attractiveness by creating a quality space where a person would want to work and spend time.

 

“This is the path we chose (when value is increased through attractiveness) for creating AIIP. Basically, with this territory, the city of Kaunas is saying very loudly to its potential investors and leaders of the local economy, “Innovations and innovative businesses are very important to us,” and they have an almost 74-acre argument,” J. Pačkauskaitė said.

 

She presented the values that the park will create for the city. These include the attracted foreign and local investments and the increasing attractiveness of the city for both foreign and Lithuanian investors, the expanded ecosystem of city’s innovations and its infrastructure, strengthened cooperation with the city’s universities and other organizations providing innovative services in the city, the development of Kaunas’ competitive advantages and the regeneration of Aleksotas micro district.

 

The specificity of the park determines that the greatest attention when choosing tenants and investors will be given to innovative companies of three specializations: life sciences, engineering industry and ICT (information communication technologies). However, it will not be limited to them. Priority will be given to the innovativeness of the applicant company, its links with other companies located in the park.

 

Groups of businesses establishing themselves in the territory:

  • land tenants on plots totaling ~53 acres, intended for the construction of buildings for innovative companies;
  • tenants of premises. Experimental production, laboratory and office premises will be formed in the 9.2 thousand square meter hangar, which is currently under reconstruction. The reconstruction is expected to finish in 2023;
  • related third parties. Infrastructure for providing relevant services to future investors.

 

Companies wishing to establish themselves in the AIIP will be assessed based on specific criteria:

  • planned investments: how much and what kind?
  • the number of jobs that will be created.
  • researchers: how many will be accepted?
  • business specialization.
  • business innovativeness (assessed according to a special methodology).

 

An investor who has expressed interest in AIIP will have to submit an application that will pass an initial assessment, an expert assessment, then conditions will be negotiated, contracts will be approved, and the settling in will begin. According to the planners, in the optimal case, this whole process from the expression of interest to the settling in the park could last about 4-6 months.

 

At the end of the meeting, the representatives of Kaunas City Municipality, VšĮ Kaunas IN and the companies that developed the plan discussed specific issues in more detail and shared insights and broader observations in the panel discussion “Quo vadis, Aleksotas?”

 

You can watch the recording of the presentation of the Aleksotas Innovation Industrial Park plan at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUMtDeWHikI. 

Source: Kaunas Municipality