A Case of Triple Helix Scenario Planning

“Sustainable Cities and Communities for 2050”



Dimitri Corpakis – Former EU Official Innovation and Public Policy

Emanuel Kosack – Business Management Student St Mary’s University, UK


Background and context:  This is a short summary report about our participation at the strategy game on Triple Helix Scenario Planning, and Innovation and Strategy Game for Executive Training that took place in the context of the workshop on Innovative Place-Based Triple Helix Approaches for Regional Development through Smart Specialisation Strategies, St Mary’s University, 28-29 June 2019).  Our team had two members (Dimitri Corpakis, Emmanuel Kosack).

The Game’s rules requested the selection of an SDG (sustainable development goal) to be set as objective in a specific geopolitical context.  We selected Belgium, and as an SDG, “Sustainable cities and communities for 2050”.

Stakeholder analysis: we started by performing a brief stakeholder analysis.  In our case, important stakeholders were:

  • Local authorities (regions, smaller communities)
  • Federal government
  • Industry and business communities
  • Citizens and local associations
  • Finance community
  • Academic community

Stakeholders’ actions were considered significant as they are shaping the ways, cities and local communities behave towards environmental goals.  While it is impossible to argue about an overall coordination, it is realistic to think of common principles that could guide each and every group’s actions towards sustainable development in the context of the urban environment.  These principles are underpinned by a number of shared objectives that we identified as follows (obviously the list is not exhaustive):

Act on the way the built environment is produced (buildings, roads, bridges, factories, large or small scale urban design, city planning, etc.)

Act on manufacturing, making it more sustainable by respecting stricter environmental norms and policies

Act on waste management respecting stricter norms, and going towards a circular economy

  • Act on the environment by respecting harder norms and preserve natural spaces (in particular, water).
  • Develop and adopt sustainable transport
  • Acknowledge the need of inventing new ways for doing things
  • Understand the need for city innovation, especially data driven one, along with smart applications.

Driving/objecting forces: in order to better design a policy towards the specific SDG, keeping in mind the TH principles, it is important to identify the specific driving as objectifying social forces at play.  We have listed the following:

Driving forces:

  • The Intellectual community (in general)
  • The academics (university community)
  • Ecologist and ecology-minded political forces
  • Environmental associations
  • Foresight actors that can provide future visions and scenarios for sustainable cities.

Objecting forces: 

  • Possibly incumbent industry players that have specific problems to solve before making the transition to more sustainable practices and they do not understand always how to proceed
  • Climate change sceptics and ‘deniers’
  • Conventional thinkers and politicians.

Develop and implement an Action Plan to bring matters forward: we came to the conclusion that moving to sustainable cities and communities by 2050 would require a progressive approach that needs to convince the different stakeholders, instead of limiting itself to heavy regulation.  This way results would be really universal and sustainable. 

The Action Plan, would have at its heart a number of Pilot Projects that could convince and demonstrate benefits, especially to reluctant industrial players, whose behaviour is pivotal to achieving the objectives.  In summary the plan would go like this:

  • Identify and run a number of pilot projects through a broad association of stakeholders, respecting and using the principles of the Triple Helix (university, industry, government)
  • Devise a more sophisticated Triple Helix approach that could identify ways forward and also demonstrate the barriers that have to be brought down
  • Evaluate these pilots and identify the determinants of success in a sort of reverse engineering
  • On the basis of these, design and introduce legislation for the short, medium and longer term based on evidence, provided also by the projects

Final thoughts: the Game has proven a useful tool for creative and rational thinking, connecting successfully the problem to the reality of the terrain.  It would be useful if the notion of ‘winning the game’ would be replaced by ‘meaningful ways forward towards goals achievement’.


Our Game Board completed and presented to the team!


Professor Emanuela Todeva , Dr Dimitri Corpakis




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Published by the Triple Helix Association  –  ISSN 2281-4515


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