Triple Helix Systems: An Analytical Framework for Innovation Policy and Practice in the Knowledge Society

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Abstract

This paper introduces the concept of Triple Helix systems as an analytical construct that synthesizes the key features of university--industry--government (Triple Helix) interactions into an "innovation system" format, defined according to systems theory as a set of components, relationships and functions. Among the components of Triple Helix systems, a distinction is made between (a) R&D and non-R&D innovators; (b) "single-sphere" and "multi-sphere" (hybrid) institutions; and (c) individual and institutional innovators. The relationships between components are synthesized into five main types: technology transfer; collaboration and conflict moderation; collaborative leadership; substitution; and networking. The overall function of Triple Helix systems--knowledge and innovation generation, diffusion and use--is realized through a set of activities in the knowledge, innovation and consensus spaces. This perspective provides an explicit framework for the systemic interaction between Triple Helix actors that was previously lacking, and a more fine-grained view of the circulation of knowledge flows and resources within and among the spaces, helping to identify existing blockages or gaps. From a Triple Helix systems perspective, the articulation and the non-linear interactions between the spaces can generate new combinations of knowledge and resources that can advance innovation theory and practice, especially at the regional level. (Contains 6 figures, 4 boxes, and 17 notes.)

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