What are the gender implications of Triple Helix innovation model?


In the beginning of this month, I participated in a Triple Helix workshop called “Soft Sciences Boosting SMEs’ business” at Tampere University. Triple Helix refers to a model where innovation becomes generated through the collaboration between research institutes, public sector and industry. In the workshop, the distinguished Triple Helix scholar Professor Henry Etzkowitz from Standford University explained how the model had started in USA with strong emphases on technology. He continued that recently there has been more and more interest in a collaboration where scholars from human and social sciences as well as artists would work together with other two helixes. Though the need for a new kind of cooperation is noticed the money is still often channeled to the STEM fields.

The workshop continued with a panel discussion where Etzkowitz was joined by Johanna Kujala from Tampere University, Seppo Haataja from the city of Tampere, and Jesse Wessman from local intermediary organization Demola. They highlighted the advantages of Finnish society and culture for multi-sectorial cooperation, namely high trust and low barriers between institutions and organizational actors. They saw Tampere, which is a middle-sized Finnish city with 250 000 inhabitants, as big enough place for R&I collaboration and simultaneously small enough place to be agile in competition.

From Nordwit’s perspective this is an interesting Nordic aspect that we consider in our studies especially since some of our interviewees in Tampere from R&I argue that in local circles the same R&I people meet over and over again. In the workshop, the panel moderator Markku Sotarauta stated that the high-trust in Nordic countries can lead to deadlocks both in thinking and in practices. In Nordwit, we continue this discussion by asking what kinds of gender impacts our local Triple Helix contexts and histories create, and how do they affect women’s career trajectories. As Malin and Monica Lindberg and Johann Packendorff (2014, 95) write “Triple Helix innovation systems tend to emphasise and sustain traditional masculine notions of entrepreneurship and innovation―not least since publicly supported Triple Helix initiatives also tend to be situated within the male-dominated settings of networks and industries.”

Tiina Suopajärvi





Lindberg, Malin, Lindberg, Monica & Packendorff, Johann 2014: Quadruple Helix as a Way to Bridge the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship: The Case of an Innovation System Project in the Baltic Sea Region. Journal of Knowledge Economy 5: 94–113.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s