Triple Helix in Manchester
The University of Manchester (UK) hosted the XVI International Triple Helix Conference on 5–8 September, 2018. The ISSEK was represented by Mikhail Gershman, Deputy Director of the Centre for S&T, Innovation and Information Policy who presented new indicators which could help improve efficiency of public administration in the Russian R&D sphere.
The Triple Helix Conference is annually organised by the Association of the same name established in 2009 by Professors Henry Etzkowitz and Loet Leydesdorff. The triple helix model is based on the idea that efficient cooperation between science, business, and the state could accelerate innovation development and step up the entrepreneurial function of universities (which apart from their research and educational activities promote emergence of new firms).
The Manchester conference gathered more than 200 researchers from all over the world, specialising in national, regional and corporate innovation systems in conventional and creative industries, specific features of scientists’ activities, and research skills. A specific group of presentations was focused on academic entrepreneurship and technology transfer.
E.g. professor Maureen McKelvey of the University of Gothenberg (Sweden) spoke about knowledge-intensive innovative entrepreneurship studies which bring together evolutionary economics theories and innovation systems. Such (typically small) firms operate in most sectors of the economy and tend to have more active interaction with other innovation systems’ participants than conventional companies.
A special session was devoted to research ethics and evaluation of scientists’ performance, in particular in social sciences and humanities. Many countries display excessive attention to various research metrics, leading to researchers focusing on achieving quantifiable results (such as publications and citation) as opposed to creating real benefits for the society. Eiríkur Smári Sigurðarson from the University of Iceland drew attention to humanities-specific features whose effects are typically felt for a long time but remain hard to measure, such as, e.g. 'changes in the traditional perception of certain issues'.
Presentation by Professor Barry Bozeman from the Arizona State University (US) was focused on administrative duties of researchers employed by American universities. As the number of regulations grows, university researchers spend an increasingly larger proportion of their time on grant accounting. Analysis of 100 interviews revealed that collaborative university research involves an even higher administrative load than projects implemented by universities jointly with companies.
The report by Dr Jan Youtie, Principal Research Associate at the Georgia Institute of Technology also contributed to this topic: the speaker estimated the increased bureaucratic load on researchers due to application of automated reporting systems by analysing the flow of emails. The results show that two thirds of emails received by researchers at initial stages of research project were either automatically generated, or concerned issues raised in automatically generated messages.
Mikhail Gershman’s presentation 'Doing Science' described the innovative approach to building qualitative indicators (indices) measuring business climate in science and efficiency of S&T policy tools. The approach was based on business tendency surveys conducted to analyse the current state and development prospects of various sectors of the economy through mass polling of companies’ top managers (see 'Business Climate in Science: Results of a Pilot Study' for more).
Mikael Heroux-Vaillancourt of the Polytechnique Montreal (Canada) presented an example of calculating alternative innovation activity indicators based on text mining. Semantic analysis of websites of 89 Canadian nanotechnology companies allowed to calculate indices measuring their innovation activities and IP creation, which in the authors’ opinion could replace certain conventional (survey-based) indicators.
Chantale Tippett, Principal Researcher at NESTA Innovation Agency (UK) presented a current project on designing new research and innovation indicators, along with a case study on mapping the UK’s 'immersive economy' (which is based on application of virtual and augmented reality technologies).
In addition to verbal presentations there were posters illustrating various aspects of universities’, businesses’, and government agencies’ interaction, including a technology park management model based on a balanced system of indicators; a university entrepreneurial activity index; and a comparison of the triple helix components of the Chinese and Russian national innovation systems.
The ISSEK researchers will apply the new knowledge obtained from the presentations and discussions in the ongoing Doing Science project; its most recent results will be presented at the VIII International Academic Conference 'Foresight and STI Policy' on 15–16 November at HSE.
Other triple helix-related materials (in Russian):
Managing Research. The Atlant Theses (Mikhail Gershman’s notes on the Georgia Tech 'STI Policy' Conference, 2014)
Innovation as a Systemic Phenomenon (a review of the lecture by Jutta Guenther 'Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy and Policy')