Quadruple Helix Collaborations in Practice

This report presents the lessons learned during the three years of the RiConfigure Project.

Regarding practice the main lesson learned is that the theory of Quadruple Helix Collaborations (QHC) is quite different from the practice of QHC. Once applied in practice, the theoretical idea of four helixes collaborating together in research and innovation stumbles upon a myriad of real-life barriers such as funding, role distribution, incentives, power structures and path dependency. These barriers can sometimes be overcome. Yet in order to do so, the in-between step of reflecting upon these barriers and their origin is crucial. In this context, we have identified a series of opportunities and ‘enhancers’ that can be further exploited to get the best out of such a collaboration. Specifically when it comes to civil society, participation of citizens can help experts learn the language of the laymen or at least realize that they do not necessarily speak the same language.

Regarding the RRI competences for QHC, it can be stated that in general stakeholders are much more flexible and adaptive than the theoretical four-fold categorization would suggest. In fact, when it comes to systemic innovations that are unavoidably impactful for society as a whole, it is almost a ‘job requirement’ that one be skilled in navigating the RRI competences distinguished in the RRI literature, e.g., systems thinking, moral competence, learning skills.

Regarding the relationship between governance frameworks and QHCs, it can be noticed that this relationship is not yet a very strong one. Policy is not, at this moment, written with the specific aim of fostering QHCs nor is it in any clear way the driving force behind existing QHCs. When QHCs are formed, they spring into existence not because of some compelling policy framework but rather because of a mutually recognized benefit of the presence of stakeholders from all sectors.


  • D6.4 Quadruple Helix Collaborations in Practice