Triple Helix: Are all helices creates equal?

The notion of the triple helix of Etzkowitz et al echoes some of our earlier discussions and interposes universities between business and government nominally replacing the military in what Eisenhower warned of as the ‘military-industrial complex‘ into a seemingly more benign but still mutually reinforcing arrangement.

Clearly, not all technologies are created equal though and it seems reasonable to assume that from one country to the next, from sector to sector and even from technology to technology that the three strands of government, industry and universities will differ in terms of their relative importance and even the role they play. For illustration, comparing (i) big data, (ii) satellites and (iii) energy storage as major new growth areas we see quite different roles for each of the three strands. Consider Government — in the first case, it largely acts to impose rules on use and abuse of big data, in the second area it is an important actor in its own right and in the third has the role of setting rules to spur investment (or is that too simplistic?).  In all three areas the business case for the private sector remains challenging and universities, of course, are filled with researchers interested in all sorts of related questions while training the next generation of skilled workers.  The interface is the interesting part and the one we want to explore here and the task is ‘simple’:

Pick a favourite country or cluster and then pick a sector/technology of interest and provide a short but critical assessment of how business, government, and universities interact.

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