H-Enea Living Lab has decided to integrate a fourth helix (Carayannis and Campbell, 2009) to the traditional model of the Triple Helix of innovation, integrating a human and social layer to generate innovative value propositions.

The “Triple Helix” model, defined by Henry Etzkowitz, a professor at Stanford University and an expert on innovation policies, identifies three actors or helixes (university, business, and government) whose relationships –and fluency- determine the functioning of the innovation systems and, therefore, the economic growth.

For H-Enea Living Lab, the incorporation of the fourth helix means that the solutions that transform into business and wealth for society, are the solutions accepted by the users/clients. These people should be included in the innovation process, the search of opportunities, their definition, and validation.

Fourth Helix
Fourth Helix, Ecosystem, Social Innovation, Node

In practice, the addition of this fourth player means to listen to the voice of the clients systematically, to facilitate their active collaboration even in the conceptualization and design of products/services, and their involvement in the early stages of innovation as active users. Therefore, we need to use many of the techniques and tools provided by the social sciences.

As Jordi Colominas explains is his article “De la triple hélice a la innovación social: ¿Qué está ocurriendo en el citilab de Cornellà?”, published in “La factoría”:

“active users (people), the living Lab (the methodology) and open innovation (the framework) seem to be driving a new configuration in which the user acquires a relevance in the innovation processes, unknown until now”

H-Enea Living Lab is an experimentation and validation environment, characterized by the early involvement of the clients, who work together with other stakeholders, concluding in fast cycles of innovation.

H-Enea Living Lab applies a thinking style that combines empathy to understand the context of a problem, creativity to provide solutions and logic to adapt those solutions to the real world.

This philosophy is supported by the European Union as well, which has defined a number of political priorities where citizens are always the hub.

When these policies focus on innovation, the citizen becomes a user and this increases its role as a hub. This way, for the European Commission, there is no innovative process without the participation, since the earliest stages, of those who will be the receptors of the result of the process. That is, the final clients and citizens, the people after all.

In the section of our website dedicated to the process we explain in detail how we work in H-Enea Living Lab to define products and services that incorporate the perspective of the people who will use them.