Innovation ecosystems and industry-research relationships

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Photo by Clint Adair on Unsplash

When writing this, my very first Triple Helix Conference has been going on online for a couple of days. To me in some shared sessions there was a bit of an all-male panel vibe (with the mandatory woman here and there) but in fact some of the most interesting speeches in the conference have been by women. One such a speech was Joanna Chatway’s keynote on transformative innovation agendas and the need for new direction for Triple Helix, to which I will come back later in another blog post.

At least two prominent speakers thus far, the former prime minister of Finland Esko Aho and Martti Hetemäki, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance of Finland, have stressed the importance of the ecosystem related to innovation. Aho put the rise and fall of Nokia in context by stating that the Nokia success story was first and foremost an ecosystem success story and the loss in the end was an ecosystem loss. Hetemäki saw ecosystems as key to successful policies. He compared EU ecosystems to the Bay area (e.g. Silicon Valley) and raised the question, whether they could produce similar results than in the Bay area.

In the panel session on Innovation Expectations of 2020, the crisis relating to the corona virus pandemic was hoped to create stronger possibilities to utilize digitalization in Europe. This would, however, require such a speed that some of the industry representatives saw this as difficult, since political decision-making processes are slow. Time seems to be of essence of Triple Helix relationships between different stakeholders: while researchers have a longer perspective to the future, in business there are expectations of a relatively brief and clear view to making business out of discoveries. On the other hand, over time, findings from basic research can be quite important in innovations. Another issue important to industry–academic research relationships was transparency. Contrary to what one might expect, none of the panelists really saw lack of a common language as a problem in the relationships.

I’m on my third day of the conference, and hopefully the theme of innovation culture scheduled for today will prove to be interesting.

Minna Leinonen

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