Triple helix collaboration:Pain or pleasure?

Collaboration Innovation Research

The Hague Security Delta (HSD) recently published a study that looks into collaboration between the public and private sectors and research institutions. This type of collaboration – also referred to as public-private cooperation, the “golden triangle”, or triple helix collaboration – has received much attention in recent years.

The survey defines triple helix collaboration as a form of “temporary collaboration between three or more organizations that share means, risks and gains in order to realize a combination of individual organizational goals, joint collaborative goals, as well as societal goals”. In order to qualify as triple helix, at least one public organization should take part (government), one research institution (knowledge center or educational institute) and one private enterprise (private sector).

Triple helix collaboration is increasingly popular

Triple helix collaboration is an increasingly popular concept, but what does it amount to? And is our optimism merited? Based on a series of twenty interviews with experts in the security sector, these questions were explored. This resulted in the compilation of fifty criteria for the success and failure of triple helix collaboration that have been published in a report titled “Value creation in triple helix innovation”.

“We are convinced that triple helix collaboration empowers partners to achieve goals that they wouldn’t manage to achieve on their own” – Hans Van Loon, The Hague Security Delta program manager

Apart from these factors for success and failure, the survey also offers a set of practical tools that triple helix partners can put to the test immediately. The report encourages those who are in charge of managing a triple helix partnership to focus on connecting and advancing the different interests involved, pooling the different strengths, and dividing successes while focusing on “triple-win” goals.


HSD commissioned the research in the hopes of being better able to encourage triple helix collaboration in The Hague’s security community – partly based on the assumption that the specific type of collaboration particularly encourages innovation.

“We want to facilitate our partners as best as we can in order to achieve cooperation between government, knowledge institutions and private companies,” HSD program manager Hans Van Loon explains, “because we are convinced that triple helix collaboration empowers partners to achieve goals that they wouldn’t manage to achieve on their own. We think triple helix is powerful in unprecedented ways.”

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