We have become familiar and comfortable with the idea that the science, technology and innovation (STI) system of countries is constructed around the so called ‘triple helix’ of government, universities and business. Contrary to the academic interest and government policy, the public is increasingly bypassing this club to impact science funding and innovation outcomes through directly creating and donating funds for research that they want. The charities and foundations coordinating this shift are neither ignorant of strategy or dealing in petty cash. In a significant number of OECD countries, private-non-profits as the statistical category is called, fund the higher education research system at a similar or greater level than business. This result has important implications for how we understand the STI system. This paper explores this gap in the literature, ambiguities in analyzing the phenomenon and suggests a framework for further analysis how charities and foundations are reconfiguring STI systems.
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