Climate change is one of the main challenges of our times. It is a wicked, complex and systemic challenge with enormous consequences requiring innovative solutions and transitions in all corners of society. For this reason, it cannot be handled by one single actor with one set of tools but rather calls for collaboration and joint problem-solving. This is notoriously demonstrated by the case of the yellow vests in France, where the government attempted to mitigate climate change via tax reforms, which instead ended up fueling riots. This case not only illustrates the importance of collaboration in general, but it also stresses the importance of collaborating with civil society in particular when seeking solutions to handle the challenges of climate change.
This importance of collaborating with civil society when addressing climate change also applies to innovation processes. When water levels rise, there is a need for adapting in habited areas by putting into production innovative solutions such as drainage systems or dikes based on research and enabled by governance frameworks. Nonetheless, the RiConfigure project’s investigation of innovation processes within climate change adaptation shows that entrepreneurship, know-how and regulation are not always sufficient. Sometimes, robust, innovative climate change adaptations also involve civil society, as they can provide collective intelligence that refines the adaptations, local insights that are important to context-specific adjustments, public ownership and more. This added value of civil society engagement in innovation processes not only applies to climate change adaptation but also a variety of wicked and complex challenges connected to topics such as the fourth industrial revolution, green energy, social innovation and mobility, all of which are investigated in the RiConfigure project
This promise of benefits from involving civil society in innovation processes is the starting point of the RiConfigure project’s focus on so-called Quadruple Helix Collaboration (QHC) throughout Europe, i.e. innovation constellations including actors from policy, business, research and civil society.
Despite these promised benefits and indications of the importance of collaborating with civil society, the RiConfigure project’s investigation of existing QHCs show that reality is more complex than theory. By establishing social laboratories in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Colombia, the partners of the project have gathered, observed and interacted with multiple QHCs addressing complex challenges of automatization, hydrogen technology, mobility, climate change adaptation and social innovation.
Data from these labs reveals that the integration of civil society is quite challenging, and hence reality cannot (yet) fully deliver the theoretically-described benefits. In practice, there are attempts to set up QHCs, although most of them do not involve civil society actors as theoretically imagined, i.e. as equal partners in a co-innovation process. This booklet shares stories and observations from the laboratories to provide practical insights for innovation practitioners involved in cross-sector collaborations and actors working to facilitate the multiplication of such collaboration with a particular focus on the involvement of civil society
The booklet is structured as follows:
Chapter 2 describes how QHCs work in heavy industry. In particular, it analyzes the collaboration in the community of stakeholders pertaining to the production of green
hydrogen in the Netherlands. It shows that QHCs are quite frequent, but that civil society participation is primarily indirect. The problem at hand – upscaling green hydrogen – is a typical complex issue that requires the participation of all four helixes. We provide a series of lessons for strengthening QHCs and allowing the infusion of non-economic values into the design of new technologies in the industry.
Chapter 3 provides insights from a research-initiated QHC. A social lab on the future of work was established within an existing local innovation ecosystem, which provided space to reflect on the societal impacts of a new technology. The chapter shows the different resources that the four helixes may contribute to innovation processes in the field of industrial automation. Furthermore, it draws attention to the local innovation ecosystem of a QHC as well as the importance of civil society in making a technological innovation a success.
In chapter 4, the policy-initiated QHC Community Creates Mobility (CCM) is used to show
how aspects of the Quadruple Helix (QH) Innovation model can be used at the activity level to create an innovation ecosystem for mobility of the future. By including new actors in innovation processes, CCM could take a leap towards democratization and addressing
challenges of mobility, social justice and climate crisis. This chapter shows the input and
throughput benefits that such a constellation can have for mobility innovation by providing insights into the praxis of setting up structures for innovation collaborations.
Chapter 5 provides insights from civil society-initiated QHCs. It discusses the case of climate change adaptation and reveals the challenges of integrating civil society actors as full-blown partners in QHC, as opposed to actors that are merely consulted. Focusing on the structure of QHC, it provides suggestions concerning how the existing will to collaborate with civil society can be fostered and supported.
In chapter 6, three cases are analyzed in the Colombian social lab to assess QHC. Governance, financing, long-term sustainability and communication must be taken into account when inviting civil society to be part of the QH Innovation process.
Instead of a concluding chapter, we end the booklet with a series of governance insights (chapter 7) specifically directed at policy-makers and legislators at various level of policy (regional, national and international). Governance actors provide the context for QHC and it is here that we see the greatest lever to realize more QHC in the future
Table of contents
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Quadruple Helix Collaboration in the hydrogen economy
Chapter 3 - Towards collaboration with societal actors in the field of industrial automation
Chapter 4 - Steps towards Quadruple Helix Innovation. Lessons from the 'Community Creates
Chapter 5 - Challenges of engaging civil society in innovation processes on climate change adaptation
Chapter 6 - Addressing societal and environmental challenges using Quadruple Helix Collaboration in Colombia
Chapter 7 - Governing the Quadruple Helix. Insights for policy-makers