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The “Quadruple Helix” approach combines local government, business, academia and citizens in four-way collaboration.

Place-Based Growth, Innovation and the Quadruple Helix

The report Place-Based Growth, Innovation and the Quadruple Helix has been launched by the N8 Research Partnership, a collaboration of the eight most research-intensive universities in the North of England, and AtkinsRéalis, a fully integrated professional services and project management company. Dr Stephanie Scott from the School and its Centre for Strategy, Technological Innovation, and Operations was the School's lead author.

The report calls for new approaches to how the UK funds and delivers regional plans for economic growth to achieve sustainable futures, as well as fast-tracking innovation and opportunities for individual regions. It argues that productivity and place-based growth is improved not just by technology and other economic drivers but by full interaction between these four key stakeholder groups of government, business, academia, and citizens.

Dr Scott says, “This research sought evidence of the most prominent examples of technology development within the UK’s Northern regions. We immediately found that there is absolutely no shortage of innovation in the North of England – the list of exciting technologies being developed was tremendous. Notably, though, the research revealed a need for a greater understanding of how to unlock and coordinate everyone’s potential to contribute to innovation activities. It's not just firms that benefit from new technologies! There is a strong sense of enthusiasm for creating a knowledge exchange community and facilitating new ways of thinking about open communication to benefit industry, academia, government, and citizens within the ecosystems in the North”.

Stakeholder workshops

The N8 group and AtkinsRéalis worked together on a series of stakeholder workshops across the North of England during the first quarter of the year to identify region-specific areas for innovation and economic acceleration through greater collaboration.

The first workshop was held at Durham University in February 2024 and focused on Net Zero. York University hosted the second in March on Advanced Manufacturing and the third took place in April at Liverpool University focussing on Artificial Intelligence. 

The Quadruple Helix Funding Model

Central to the report is the idea of the Quadruple Helix funding model, deployed as a working method in Durham University. It calls for closer interaction between industry, academia, government, and citizen stakeholders for innovation to succeed, and highlights the benefits of early engagement in design, delivery, and implementation of technological advancements.

Kieran Fernandes, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor at Durham University, comments, “We see this report and its findings very much as the starting point. So, as we move forward from the exploratory phase, the focus shifts towards concrete actions and the implementation of the Quadruple Helix model in real-world settings”.

Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF)

Dr Scott and the other researchers from N8 involved in the report will be presenting their findings in a panel discussion at the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) in Leeds. The panel includes newly elected local government members – regional mayors.

The N8 Research Partnership is now calling on local government leaders to work with stakeholders to adopt its framework to drive economic growth in the UK.  The universities recommend that they consider convening a Quadruple Helix ‘open forum’ in their areas to consider the benefits of the approach.

The open forum initiative would allow people to communicate their own aspirations, needs, and knowledge and would be designed to promote broad interactions from stakeholders ranging from school age children to politicians and local government. From there, the development of a clear action plan would be the next step.

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