Urenio Watch Watch: Innovation

Triple Helix

‘The Triple Helix is a spiral model of innovation that captures multiple reciprocal relationships at different points in the process of knowledge capitalization’. The model denotes the ‘university-industry-government’ relationship as a complex of interdependent institutional spheres, which overlap and complement each other along the process of innovation.

Leydesdorff and Meyer describe Triple Helix as neo-evolutionary model of innovation. They argue that ‘Three models have been proposed for the study of knowledge-based innovation systems: (i) the distinction of ‘Mode 2’ type of knowledge production as opposed to disciplinary knowledge production in ‘Mode 1’ (Gibbons et al., 1994; Nowotny et al., 2001); (ii) the model of ‘national systems of innovation’ in evolutionary economics (Freeman, 1988; Lundvall, 1988, 1992; Nelson, 1993); and (iii) the Triple Helix model of university-industry-government relations (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000). The three models differ analytically in terms of how the integration into a system and the differentiation among its components are conceptualized.’

The Triple Helix model emphasizes institutional arrangements among universities, industries, and governments enhancing both innovation communication and organization. Radical innovation is increasingly likely to come from outside of the individual firm or even from another institutional sphere such as the university where the focus of attention is on original path breaking developments in science or technology. There is evidence that discontinuous innovations, which originate in a company, are more likely to be utilized in a different environment where the blinders of current taken for granted practices or commitment to existing technologies and products are less likely to have effect. As innovation moves outside of a single organization, lateral relationships across boundaries, rather than hierarchical bureaucratic structures, become more important.


Henry Etzkowitz, The Triple Helix of University – Industry – Government. Implications for Policy and Evaluation,

Loet Leydesdorff and Martin Meyer, The Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations,