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Triple helix relationship research on China's regional university–industry–government collaborative innovation: Based on provincial patent data

Tao Zhuang, Shuliang Zhao, Mingliang Zheng and Jianxun Chu

Growth and Change, 2021, vol. 52, issue 3, 1361-1386

Abstract: Over the last 20 years, university–industry–government collaborative innovation has received extensive attention in theory and practice. However, the question of how to integrate and understand collaborative innovation from a theoretical perspective has not been thoroughly studied. This study designed a regional collaborative innovation evaluation model based on the triple helix theory. The invention patent data of 31 provincial regions in China for the last 5 years are used to investigate the regional differences and dynamic evolution of the collaborative innovation and the interaction and coupling relationship between intraregional and interregional industries, universities, and governments empirically. This study found that the number of invention patents in China has rapidly grown yearly, indicating that industries are the most important source of invention patents. The difference in the regional distribution of China's collaborative innovation output is remarkable, showing a pattern of “strong east and weak west” in the total volume and “south fast north slow” in the growth rate. The bilateral synergistic effect of industry–university relations is strong considering two‐dimensional cooperation, and the relationship is close. Collaborative innovation is dominated by intraregional cooperation, whereas interregional cooperation shows a growing trend. The tripartite relationship between university, industry, and government shows a loose trend. Certain provinces with weak regional innovation capabilities, such as Gansu, Hainan, Xinjiang, and Qinghai, have a relatively close cooperation level, which is in the stage of government‐led innovation and development. However, Guangdong, Chongqing, Anhui, Jiangsu, and other provinces with outstanding regional innovation capability do not have close cooperation between universities, industries, and governments, which are in the stage of innovation and development led by industries. This paper discusses the policy implications for different regions based on the research conclusions.

Date: 2021
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