Twelve Things That Can Drive Triple Helix in Pakistan

Innovation Led Growth through University-Industry-Government Collaboration

Rahmat Ullah
Manager ORIC
University of Management and Technology
Chief Coordinator
Institute of Research Promotion
General Secretary
South Asia Triple Helix Association

Dr Emanuela Todeva
International Business Strategy and Innovation
St Mary’s University
United Kingdom
Vice-President of the Triple Helix Association

Naveed ul Haq
Research Associate, ORIC,
University of Management and Technology


The concept of the Triple Helix of university-industry-government relationships was introduced in the late 1990’s by Etzkowitz (1993, 1995).  This vision of the Triple Helix model follows the elements of the research work done by Lowe (1982).  Their study includes various factors and background issues seeking to identify the central problems for university, faculty, administrator, and students, and found the question about how industry will contribute to it to fill the gap between university, industry, and academia.

The Triple Helix model is an excellent driver that provides a platform for innovation and economic development for Pakistan by the means of hybridization of elements from university, industry, and government to generate new institutional and social framework for the production, transfer, and application of knowledge.  This vision encompasses not only the creative destruction that appears as a natural innovation, but also the creative renewal that arises within each of the three institutional spheres of university, industry, and government, as well as at their intersections (Schumpeter, 1942; Etzkowitz, 1993).  Pakistan is a developing country and is currently executing a number of development strategies.  The development in the current era can only be met by making the strategies at national level for Government, academia, industry.

Discussion and implementation of the Triple Helix model in Pakistan has taken place over the past four years under the leadership of the University of Management and Technology in Lahore, and the South Asia and Pakistan Triple Helix Chapter.  One of the most recent initiatives in this programme was a roundtable discussion with invited speakers from industry, government and academia.  The contributions from the roundtable discussion are presented below in this article as ‘best practice recommendations’ for the future development of Pakistan.


1.     Forming of Entrepreneurial Universities

Being one arm of the Triple Helix model, the Government (GOVT) of Pakistan’s role is very crucial and significant for the successful implementation of the model.  In this regard the GOVT role for establishing entrepreneurial universities is essential.  The entrepreneurial university is such a challenging concept, implicating a whole set of tacit meanings as well as cultures, values and explicit success measures, that putting together “university” and “entrepreneurial activities” for the benefit of the society.

2.     Proactive and Accessible Bureaucracy

There are several characteristics of Pakistan’s bureaucracy that can influence the Triple Helix model in Pakistan.  There are some persistent weaknesses in those agencies that impact specifically on Pakistani industry and technological capabilities, corresponding weak interactions with the private sectors, and poorly designed financial incentives, for promoting the research culture in Pakistan.

3.     Development of Science Parks

Science parks and R&D institutions play a major role for the Triple Helix model in Pakistan.  The trend of making science parks is necessary for the Pakistani GOVT.  These R&D institutions provide support for linkages between GOVT, academia, and industry.  In Pakistan the Institute of Research Promotion (IRP) is a dynamic agency for promotion of innovation and technology development.  The IRP team has developed the capacity to work with partners and bring stakeholders on a focused agenda of innovation.  The IRP has created an environment where technology work is being exhibited, promoted, and commercialized.  Pakistan’s GOVT needs to develop R&D institutions and science parks for promoting the research culture in Pakistan for driving the Triple Helix model.

4.     Interest and activeness of Political Leadership

An explanation for the preceding problems is incomplete without explicit attention to the government’s understanding of the private sector’s needs, and the political will to promote related institutions.  It has recognized that the nature of new competitive pressures and working with the private sector is based on the likes and dislikes of the one’s opinion.


5.     Knowledge Spill-overs

The knowledge spill-overs among university, industry, and GOVT are considered as one of the mechanisms for improving the economic performance of Pakistan.  There is a need for knowledge sharing among universities and industries about the mechanisms of the Triple Helix model.  Researchers in academia have to share their views with industry for the collaboration of research projects.  Researchers from universities must arrange industry visits and identify the industrial problems which need to be addressed with the help of scientists.

6.     Governance in the universities

Pakistani universities must be engaged in promoting the research culture by way of organizing workshops, seminars, training for researchers and industry. The strong governance with universities may lead to the development of Triple Helix model.

7.     Sandwich Courses and Industry Placements by Academia

Sandwich courses are a modern term for the academic sector.  These are courses offered by universities where some of the studies take place working in industry or studying abroad.  They are offered to final year students for gaining practical exposure to industry.  There are a lot of benefits attached to these courses, i.e. most industry work placements will pay a salary and you might get a grant if you study abroad.  The annual tuition fee will probably be lower for that year as well.  But sandwich courses are about more than just the money.  Students who work in industry will develop real practical skills which will help when applying for future jobs.  Studying abroad means you experience a different country and culture first hand, making you more independent and giving new friends, co-workers and memories to go with your qualification at the end of the course.

8.     Incentives for Research Students and Supervisors

Incentives, whether financial or non-financial, are always considered as a powerful tool for promoting research activities within the academia sector.  Incentives, or “compensation,” include anything offered to participants, monetary or otherwise, to encourage participation in research.  Academic researchers and students must be offered some reasonable incentives for doing their research projects because these activities can help for the implementation of Triple Helix model in Pakistan.

9.     Establishment of Linkages and Networks

There must be a need for establishing the linkages with other R&D institutions, universities and industries and GOV.  Linkages among institutions and industry provide a platform for establishing the Triple Helix model and also work as driving force.


10.     Incentives for Industry to build an Academic Liaison

Industries are always considered as seeking to enhance business competitiveness, will partner with universities for a variety of reasons, including intellectual property acquisition, access to potential new hires, and access to cutting-edge ideas and expertise.  Experience indicates, however, that these outcomes are often attenuated for small firms because of a variety of mismatches with university practices and policies.

11. Incentives for Technology Led Production

Generally speaking, industries prime concern involves increasing the competitive advantages, expanding the market position and maximizing profits, etc.  This is true fact, but in this global innovative era, universities concerns move towards collaborative work with universities.  For example companies with shrinking R&D capacities may have a prime need to leverage their existing assets through contract research arrangements with universities.  The GOVT of Pakistan in this regard provides a platform for the promotion of technology and industry research, i.e. a technology development fund offered by the HEC for the development of technology with industry liaison.  These types of opportunities are the driving forces for the Triple Helix model in Pakistan.

12.     Training and Education of Industry

There is a need for the know-how of the Triple Helix model to spread across industries working in Pakistan.  Training is a powerful tool for industry to develop this model in Pakistan.  Training, seminars, and workshops must be arranged with the collaboration of GOVT and the academic sector for understanding the need of the Triple Helix model.  These types of activities will bring industry and society problems in a market where potential researchers overview the problems of finding their solutions.  There is much scope to explore channels for knowledge exchange across the university-industry interface, well known in Pakistan and which deserve attention, such as: patents registration; technology licensing; R&D alliances and joint ventures; R&D outsourcing; spin-offs; scientific publications, citations and coauthorship (Todeva, 2013).


The Triple Helix model provides both a theoretical and an empirical platform of working together across different institutional spheres which can lead towards accelerated economic development of Pakistan.  In Pakistan, the need for knowledge and understanding of the Triple Helix model is necessary to facilitate new relationships for cooperation.
In conclusion, the Government of Pakistan particularly needs to overview the educational needs of the country.   It is not sufficient only to look at primary schooling; nor is it appropriate to expect universities to engage with business without support and motivation.  The Government of Pakistan should engage actively with HEIs as part of an open, inclusive dialogue, recognizing both the significant role that the universities must play in national development and the complex attitudes and assumptions that exist within the universities.  The universities of Pakistan have much to contribute to the successful development of the Triple Helix model in the country.


Etzkowitz, H and Leydesdorff, L.  (1997)  Introduction to special issue on science policy dimensions of the Triple Helix of university-industry-government relations: Beech Tree Publishing.
Etzkowitz, H and Leydesdorff, L.  (1998)  The endless transition: a ‘Triple Helix’ of university industry government relations, Minerva, 36 (3): 203-208.
Lowe, C U.  (1982)  The Triple Helix – NIH, industry, and the academic world.  The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 55(3-4), 239.
Schumpeter, J.  (1942)  Creative destruction.  Capitalism, socialism and democracy, 825.
Todeva E.   (2013) Governance of innovation and intermediation in Triple Helix interactions.  Industry and Higher Education, 27 (4): 263–278.