When the UK's manufacturing sector was hit by the emergence of cheaper, high-quality rivals in the East, the service sector was hailed as an economic saviour.
It was the need to replace these jobs that led to the diversification of the West Midlands economy and the development of a new knowledge-led economy - one that would generate jobs for the future, Science parks are at the heart of this drive - not least in the West Midlands, which is home to a handful of world-class examples.
Keeping a close eye on their development is Carl Potter, national head of business and science parks at GVA Grimley in Birmingham.
"UK science parks demonstrate the significant benefits that public and privatesector partnerships can bring. By fusing the cutting-edge research base of UK institutions with the development capabilities of private sector organisations, the Government has laid the foundations for a bright future for the sector," says Mr Potter.
"In this region, Advantage West Midlands (AWM) has developed a corridor approach to developing the region's science parks with the formation of the Central Technology Belt being a key part of this strategy.
"The belt links the influentialQinetiQ research centre and Malvern Hills Science Park in Worcestershire with Birmingham and Aston Universities.
"GVA Grimley has worked closely with AWM in advising on the development of Malvern Hills Science Park, which offers high-tech companies the ideal operating environment and nurtures them through the growth process."
At another of the region's science parks, Coventry University Technology Park,development of The Innovation Village by Real Land Group is nearing ompletion.
Nick Hill, managing director at Real Land Group, says: "The Innovation Village represents the third phase at Coventry University Technology Park and offers comprehensive accommodation and research resources for some of the region's most exciting companies.
"Organisations at The Innovation Village are able to exploit numerous opportunities to develop commercial products and as they grow the park is able to meet their accommodation needs, ensuring a promising future for the sector as its place in the UK economy becomes increasingly prominent."
Mr Potter, who advises Coventry University Enterprises and AWM, says: "The Innovation Village is the first private sector development at the park and offers future proof accommodation for smaller, innovation-led businesses that are likely to become the pioneers of the future.
"GVA Grimley has extensive experience across the sector and is an official business affiliate of the UK Science Parks Association (UKSPA), the authoritative body on science park planning, development and operation.
"This enables the provision of an unrivalled standard of consultancy for science park development from GVA Grimley as the sector continues to grow."
This spirit of optimism is also evident at Birmingham's Aston Science Park.
Home for more than 100 businesses employing around 1,400 people, the science park celebrated its 20th birthday earlier this year with the announcement of a huge expansion. Now Aston is running a major #3.5 million project to help small and medium-sized companies improve their businesses through technology and innovation.
Project Novus is a three-year scheme being managed by Birmingham Technology - Aston Science Park's management company - in conjunction with Birmingham City Council, QinetiQ, the Defence Diversification Agency and other research and technology organisations.
A specially recruited five-man team of business advisors and analysts is helping SMEs access new technology and link up with technology-providing organisations.
According to chief executive Dr Derek Harris, the science park had developed enormous expertise in new technologies and technology transfer and was ideally placed to deliver this new project.
"There is a significant opportunity to support the regional economic strategy through a focused programme aimed at enabling SMEs in the region access new technology opportunities," Dr Harris tells Business Property Review.
"Many traditional companies are being seriously affected by changes in the global marketplace and the effect that competition from low-cost economy countries is having on their traditional markets.
"A failure by firms to monitor and react to market changes along with an inability to implement the business changes necessary to develop new products and services has resulted in a significant decline in business competitiveness in many traditional sectors.
"The strategic intent of Project Novus is to focus its activities and delivery in support of the A38 corridor with particular emphasis on providing opportunities for companies affected by changes in their traditional markets.
"That said, the project will not just help existing businesses. It will also provide long-term support for new companies."