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The Benefits and Limitations of Triple-Helix Collaboration: The Case of Zagreb

Tena Petrović, Domagoj Račić and Zrinka Glavaš Sigur

A chapter in 6th International OFEL Conference on Governance, Management and Entrepreneurship. New Business Models and Institutional Entrepreneurs: Leading Disruptive Change. April 13th - 14th, 2018, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2018, pp 33-48 from Governance Research and Development Centre (CIRU), Zagreb

Abstract: In their development of national systems of innovation, catching up countries with low or moderate innovation performance usually focus on top-down approach and centralized implementation of innovation policy instruments. Given the limited resources and knowledge, there is a strong rationale for such an approach. However, this paper explores opportunities for a bottom-up approach based on co-ordination of different projects based on an evolving collaboration of research institutions, companies and local administration. Under certain conditions, a dense collaboration network offers a potential for a strong contribution to the national innovation system. In Croatia, such opportunities emerge from access to European Structural and Investments Funds (ESIF) and Horizon 2020 which complement limited availability of national sources.The paper is built upon two methodological pillars – an analysis of innovation policy in Croatia (mostly based on RIO reports) and a case study of the City of Zagreb as a key contributor to innovative activities. The paper analyses the actual and potential contribution of the innovation system of the City of Zagreb to the implementation of the national innovation strategy and smart specialisation strategy. Based on ongoing collaboration between the University of Zagreb, the Ruđer Bošković Institute (the largest public research institute in Croatia) and local administration, key R&D and innovation (RDI) projects which are co-financed by ESIF and business sector are being gradually interconnected, with a potential to integrate them into a mutually reinforcing ecosystem. Although the projects are developed locally, their approval, monitoring and evaluation are done at the national and EU levels. Initial results indicate that local triple helix initiatives in key cities/regions contribute to bridging the gap between science and industry, foster an increased #of proposed and implemented RDI projects and enable a stronger ecosystem for innovative start-ups. That also contributes to the effectiveness of the national system of innovation, as well to the implementation of the innovation policy. However, the strength of these effects is likely to vary and depend upon specific conditions in a given environment. To be successful, such initiatives need a critical mass of resources and existing linkages. However, there are also risks and limitations involved. Too strong reliance on external financing may lead to suboptimal choice of projects, and synergies with Horizon 2020 and market-driven innovation are sometimes difficult to achieve and sustain over time. Furthermore, the development of the start-up population is not necessarily linked to RDI, as their development patterns tend to differ and have shorter time horizons. Finally, the success of local triple helix partnerships can also lead to disproportionate utilisation of ESIF by metropolitan regions and thereby can increase regional disparities within a country.

Keywords: Innovation system; Innovation policy; Smart specialisation; Triple helix; Croatia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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