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University, Business and Government – a Strategy for Innovation and Development

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Prof. Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES

“University-industry-government interactions, which form a” triple helix “of innovation and entrepreneurship, are the key to knowledge-based economic growth and social development.” (Henry Etzkowitz and Chunyan Zhou)

The study “Research in Brazil – A report contracted by CAPES”, conducted by the US company Clarivate Analytics, shows that 99% of Brazilian scientific production is done almost exclusively by public universities. Between 2011 and 2016, more than 250,000 papers were produced in the form of essays, articles or dissertations published in specialized journals or in annals of congresses.

For the private sector, the great difficulty is how to sustain a research, because in reality it is desired by students, eager to put their knowledge into practice.

The 18th CONIC – National Congress of Scientific Initiation, held from November 30 to December 1 of this year, is a test of that interest. The event involved the participation of 3,700 university students, and 1,998 papers were selected to compete in different areas of knowledge.

We live in the age of information and knowledge, and trends indicate that life in the 21st century will be guided by continuous learning, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in all areas and dimensions of human life, individual and collective. And the main difficulty that the university has to put into practice what your student has learned is how to give sustainability to research.

Based on this, I found the Triple Helix model interesting – a creative solution to give sustainability to research, which has never been tried in Brazil.

The academic world is in the era of the entrepreneurial university. The proposal, designed in the 1990s by Henry Etzkowitz [1] and Loet Leydesdorff [2], unites government, business and universities with the aim of innovating and creating new products and services for development.

According to the concept of the triple propeller, the interaction of university, industry and government, focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, is the key to economic growth and social development. In this model, industry continues to be a protagonist in production, government is the source of contractual relations, and the university provides the most valuable in the process of innovation: labor. The entrepreneurial university, in this sense, retains the traditional academic roles of social reproduction and extension of certified knowledge, but places them in a broader context as part of its new role in promoting innovation.

That is, the State, the University and the Enterprise converge efforts to create a culture that stimulates entrepreneurship and innovation, increasing business competitiveness, new research, technological autonomy and, consequently, socioeconomic development of the country.

As knowledge increasingly becomes an important part of innovation, the university as a producer and disseminator of knowledge is the institution that plays an important role in industrial innovation. However, this model can leverage the innovation process since, without fixed roles, the actors are more creative, original and collaborative.

Government and industry are the classic elements of public-private partnerships, and now, with the triple helix thesis, the university is no longer having a secondary, though important, social role to provide higher education and research, and is assuming a role primordial equivalent to that of industry and government, as the generator of new industries and companies.

For this, the university has to face the challenge of structuring innovative pedagogical models that transcend the traditional transmission of knowledge and enables the student to continue learning throughout life; to remain receptive to change; to act in a globalized context; to solve complex problems; to be entrepreneurial and to act with social responsibility.

In addition to carrying out a profound curricular reform in order to enable the employability of its graduates in a globalized, knowledge-intensive economy, immersed in an environment of accelerated change, the university must also become universal and ensure higher education to most of the population, throughout their lives, and contribute significantly to socially responsible regional development.

If it is not to add to its attributes cultivated over the years, to act as an enterprise of providing services in the development of professionals, generation of knowledge and transformation of all this in innovations in all domains, in favor of socially responsible development, the University will not have fulfilled its role in this triple propeller. However, in doing so, it will be able to do the only thing that gives sustainability: Research.
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(1) Henry Etzkowitz is a Visiting Professor at the Business School of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and General Counsel of the International Triple Helix Institute (IITH), LaSalle University, Madrid, Spain.
(2) Loet Leydesdorff is a Dutch sociologist, cybernetics and professor in the Dynamics of Scientific Communication and Technological Innovation of the University of Amsterdam.