Using the Quadruple Helix Approach to Accelerate the Transfer of Research and Innovation Results to Regional Growth

Contracting Party: The European Committee of the Regions (CoR)(with the Framework Contract EYCR – Education, Youth, Culture and Research)

Period: 2016



This report, co-authored by Progress Consulting S.r.l., investigates the theory and the operationalization of the ‘helices models’ where industry (IND), university (UNI), government (GOV) and - as a last comer - civil society (CIV) interact for accelerating the transfer of research and innovation results to territories. Based on robust literature review, a working definition of ‘quadruple helix’ (QH) is developed to support the classification of European regions (NUTS2 level) on the basis of their innovation performance. Towards this aim, a ‘QH innovation index’ (QHII) and five sub-indexes are computed, where the sub-indexes reflect the four spheres of the quadruple helix (IND, UNI, GOV, and CIV) and a new element (INT) which informs on the interaction among the actors of the four spheres. The characterisation and comparative analysis of the three outlined types of innovators (advanced, medium and modest) provides insights on the prevailing pullers of innovation in each type, and on the influence on innovation performance of the structural conditions of the regions as well as of the helix model regime in force (i.e. statist, laissez faire, or balanced). Provided that, in practice, several are the possible types of collaboration and functional substitution between the four spheres to achieve innovation, the research further focuses on the deeper analysis of specific on-going processes such as the changing role of universities, or the entrepreneurial discovery approach. Finally, suggestions on the applicability and possible implementation of the QH by local and regional authorities are drawn. Above all, evidence suggests the need to focus on operationalization aspects rather than on theoretical or academic thinking; and the need to identify easy-to-use instruments which would facilitate both the understanding and the integration of the helices approaches into strategic regional development.