The Future Of Innovation ... Is Th & Oi

Dr Marcelo Amaral

Who knows the future? Unpredictable, unexpected, uncertain! Based in the truth of man´s self determination I state: the future is our dreams and our work to build through innovation a better world. On this way, the models to explain innovation and related tools to improve efficiency are the future. So, to me TH+OI is the future of innovation. But what is TH+OI? TH+OI is a mix of academic ideas and professional experience in Brazil and around the world.

Triple Helix and Open Innovation are recent approaches to comprehend innovation in a knowledge based economy. TH was created in 1996 by Etzkowitz & Leydesdorf based in the faith that University creates knowledge to improve innovation in industry. The economic relations can be modeled in three sectors (spheres or helix): one creates knowledge (University), other use knowledge (Industry) and regulation sector (Government). In the TH approach each helix are changing itself and making activities from the others creating multiple and dynamic overlapping. In a best set of relationships new entities and connections are created, in a superior level. The idea of spiral DNA or overlapped circles represent the concept.

Open Innovation is a concept presented by Henry Chesbrough in 2003 and argue that knowledge to enable firm’s innovation cannot come only from the internal R&D effort but also from external knowledge creators. OI is a modern conception to explain innovation and its diffusion is being faster. This model is represented by a funnel, large in R&D side, where a set of knowledge are being created, and tight in the innovation side, where knowledge is recombined and turned in products and services.

The challenge to firms is how to manage all knowledge created and learned experiences. Modern firms have R&D function, but most part of them isn’t done inside a specific sector but widespread in the firm´s structure. So, OI is a way to manage these flows. Goods and services are each time more complex, involving different types of knowledge. A firm cannot create and keep internally all of this. Firms are opening their R&D function to external partners, as research organizations and other firms, to enable a better knowledge flow and faster innovation development.

When a firm practice OI with external organizations to acquire or diffuse knowledge a typical TH interaction is happening. OI is the engine that enables helix movement. In theory, a mix of these approaches can be understood as a macro and microeconomics of innovation.

TH+OI is a discussion about how to canalize the knowledge flows in the funnel, from the knowledge generators to the knowledge users. Also, the flow of people between spheres and recombinant organizations are important to improve quality and speed of innovation. Government acts as a regulator of economic activity and also in an inductive way to overtake asymmetries in the economy, offering information to the actors.

In sum, the future of innovation is TH+OI approach.

Article © 2009 Dr Marcelo Amaral. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Dr Marcelo Amaral

Dr Marcelo Amaral

affiliation:   Universidade Federal Fluminense

position:  Professor

country:  Brazil

area of interest:  Triple Helix Innovation Management

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