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Beyond the Third Mission: Exploring the Emerging University Function of Co-creation for Sustainability

  • G. Trencher
  • M. Yarime
  • Kes McCormick
  • C. Doll
  • S. Kraines
  • A. Kharrazi
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 151-179
Publication/Series: Science and Public Policy
Volume: 41
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract english

This paper explores a global trend where universities are collaborating with local government, industry and civic organisations to advance the sustainable transformation of a specific town, city or region. With empirical evidence, we argue that this function of ‘cocreation for sustainability’ could be interpreted as the seeds of an emerging, new mission for the university. We demonstrate that this still evolving mission differs significantly to the economic focus of the third mission and conventional technology transfer practices, which we argue, should be critically examined. After defining five channels through which a university can fulfil the emerging mission, we analyse two frontrunner ‘transformative institutions’ engaged in co-creating social transformations in pursuit of materialising sustainable development in specific locations and regions. This study seeks to add to the debate on the

third mission and triple-helix partnerships. It does so by incorporating sustainable development and place-based co-creation with government, industry and civil society.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • sustainability
  • co-creation
  • university
  • mission
  • transformation
  • collaboration
  • partnership


  • ISSN: 1471-5430
Kes McCormick
E-mail: kes [dot] mccormick [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

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