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Triple Helix in Motion: Tools, Devices, and Methods for the Development of Innovation Networks in Agrifood SMEs

Track Coordinators: Francis Fortuin (FoodValley) and Loïc Sauvée (LaSalle Beauvais).

The concept of the Triple Helix of university-industry-government relationships initiated in the 1990s by Etzkowitz (2003, 2008; Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff, 2000), interprets the shift from a dominating industry-government dyad to a growing triadic relationship between university-industry-government. A body of knowledge has grown over the last two decades that provides a general framework for exploring complex innovation dynamics. In the core of innovation dynamics lies the network dimension, seen as crucial for the success of innovations seen as open processes (Chesbrough et al. 2008), enabling SMEs to expand their resource base and to absorb new technologies, new organizational capabilities, and new competences. However, empirical observations show that practical tools and methods to enhance network behavior often fail to support SMEs establishing a strategic and efficient network or to act effectively within the network. Even more critical is the lack of knowledge about practical methods for the players of the “triple helix innovation chain” (i.e. food managers, network coordinators, knowledge institutions and policy makers). The objective of the present track is to fill this gap by discussing the content of different network tools, showing the results of real life triple helix networking cases, tests and observations of networking practices of SMEs.

        Toolboxes, methods and devices will be considered from the SME and the network perspective. The SME perspective encompasses using the network better to exchange resources in order to develop innovations and increase profit. When taking the network perspective, it is the aim to create a network that is able to fostering innovation by the SMEs within the network. Indeed these complementary perspectives are of crucial importance as a lot of initiatives fall short in creating a real dynamics in the “triple helix network”.

        It is the objective of the present track to enrich theoretical thinking about thriple helix university-industry-government relationships and to stimulate comparisons at international level:

        • To provide real examples or prototypes of practical networking tools for SME managers, to enhande their network capabilities by compating innovation networks and to identify their roles and possible relevance for their companies;
        • To show a tool box including diadnose tests of network relevance, satisfaction, and performance for managers, metwork coordinators, and policy makers, and;
        • At a theoretical level, to analyze the characteristics of diagnosis and testing tools, in relation to the relevant literature in management sciences and methodology, that could be crafted by network managers and policy makers in their endeavors to develop triple helix innovation networks.



Chesbrough, H., Vanhaverbeke, W., & West, J. (Eds.). (2008). Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm. Oxford university press.

        Etzkowitz, H. (2008). The triple Helix: university-industry-government. Innovation in action.

        Etzkowitz, H. (2003). Innovation in innovation: The triple helix of university-industry-government relations. Social Science Information, 42(3), 293-337.

        Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from National Systems and “Mode 2” to a Triple Helix of university–industry–government relations. Research policy, 29(2), 109-123.

        Fortuin, F., & Omta, O. (2009). The Wageningen innovation assessment toolkit: how to improve the potential of transition projects?. Sustainable agriculture and food chains in peri-urban areas, 189.

        Gassmann, O., Enkel, E., & Chesbrough, H. (2010). The future of open innovation. R&d Management, 40(3), 213-221.

        Kühne, B., & Gellynck, X. (2011). Chain networks as a leverage for innovation capacity: the case of food SMEs. International Journal on Food System Dynamics, 1(4), 279-294.

        Kuhne, B., & Gellynck, X. (2012). Enhancing the Innovativeness of Food SMEs through the Management of Strategic Network Behavior and Network Learning Performance. International Journal on Food System Dynamics, 3(3).

        Pittaway, L., Robertson, M., Munir, K., Denyer, D., & Neely, A. (2004). Networking and innovation: a systematic review of the evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews, 5(34), 137-168.

        West, J., & Bogers, M. (2013). Leveraging external sources of innovation: a review of research on open innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management, Forthcoming.

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