Conference main theme:   “Silicon Valley: Global Model or Unique Anomaly?”

TH9 broadens the focus of ‘traditional’ Triple Helix topics to encompass a series of topics related to the origins, development and global links of the Silicon Valley innovation story. Silicon Valley is a world high-tech hub and human capital attractor. A gathering of the Triple Helix community in the global innovation centre, with significant links to other international technology conurbations, is a unique opportunity.

After visiting Apple, Facebook and Google, the current iconic firms of Silicon Valley, Russia’s President Medvedev said,I wanted to see with my own eyes the origin of success.  The President is the latest in a long succession of visitors, from Charles de Gaulle on, for whom a visit to Silicon Valley promises insight into a potential high-tech future in-the-making for their country. Each has brought an interpretation of the Silicon Valley message back home, leading to the development of science parks, technopoles, and science cities in order to instigate a self-sustaining chain reaction of knowledge-based economic growth. But will visiting a contemporary success scene reveal the secret of high-tech growth, or is that key buried in an earlier era of origin and development? Many visitors to Silicon Valley take back home an image derived from successful firms and science parks and attempt to replicate it, without sufficiently considering the substructure on which this superstructure is built.

Behind the surface manifestations of entrepreneurial activity in the Valley, where failure is said to be celebrated as a learning experience as well as success, lies a many decades long history of history of academic entrepreneurship, university-industry relations, firm formation, government-supported R&D and industrial policy, targeted at both military and civilian objectives. Successful innovation regions like Boston’s Route 128, Silicon Valley and Research Triangle are typically the result of decades of effort, whose origins may be obscured by the visible manifestations of high-tech activity, like science parks or branding labels that express ambitions. Which Silicon Valley model to follow is a key question:

(1) Construction of science parks and attraction of multi-national firms to locate a branch?

(2) An endogenous model of university-based establishment of research groups, in con-joint fields of theoretical and practical research – the so-called “polyvalent knowledge”, with generative potential for inventions, spin-offs and new product development?

(3) A hybrid model in between the exogenous approach of foreign direct investment and the endogenous approach of incubation and technology transfer from local sources?

A series of Silicon Alleys, Mountains, Glens and Prairies were announced, following the Silicon Valley label invented by the editor of Micro-electronic News to characterize the growing semi-conductor industry in northern California. While “branding” can assist the process of regional development, by itself it is irrelevant unless other factors are put in place. It is noteworthy that the Silicon Valley name was only affixed after decades of high-tech growth in what was formerly known as the “Valley of hearts delight,” a thriving agricultural region.

The origins of Silicon Valley can be traced to double helix university-industry and government-university interactions that converged into triple helix university-industry-government relationships. Behind platform and product innovations, like the Google search engine, there is typically an agglomeration of social, intellectual and financial capital, encouraged by university-industry-government-interactions that lead to the creation of “innovations–in innovation”, like the invention of the venture capital firm that build upon the strengths of a region and address its weaknesses. The lesson of the Triple Helix is to examine local strengths and weaknesses and fill gaps in university-industry-government relationships as the basis for developing an innovation success strategy. Identifying the generative source of knowledge-based economic and social development is the core of the Triple Helix Innovation project to enhance university-industry-government interactions. While government and industry have long been recognized as the base of industrial policy, the university has moved to the forefront in an era in which advanced knowledge is more quickly translated into practical uses. Processes of technology transfer from theoretical findings that formerly took generations now occur within the work life of the inventors, allowing them the possibility of participating in the innovation as well as the research process. This phenomenon is a key argument for involving knowledge creating institutions more closely in the innovation process.


Triple Helix Conference I Amsterdam, 1996 II New York, 1998 III Rio de Janeiro, 2000 IV Copenhagen, 2002 V Turin, 2005 VI Singapore, 2007 VII Glasgow, 2009 VIII Madrid, 2010 IX Stanford, 2011 X Indonesia, 2012 XI London, 2013
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