3732 Addressing Institutional barriers to eco-innovation through a triple helix network the case of carbon composite ferries

Henrik Riisgaard , Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Justification of the paper: Public policies and governmental structures are expected to provide incentives for innovations including eco-innovations but unfortunately some institutional structures have been made for different purposes and create instead barriers to sustainable development. In the case of small island ferries in European waters some institutional settings seem to favour less sustainable solutions although technological advancement could provide feasible alternatives.


Lightweight carbon composite constructions have for decades provided winner solutions to the navy, superyachts and extreme sports. Research shows that the same solutions that enable extreme speed can be used to improve the energy efficiency by up to 100 % if applied in small island ferries in Denmark and abroad. The 45 Danish island ferries are mostly operated by municipalities and have an average age of 38 years and are therefore not constructed with considerations of climate impact and rising fuel prices in mind.

To make the next generation of ferries greener, life cycle costs and environmental performance have to be reflected in contracts and tendering documents by introducing eg. weight-based financial incentive structures. How can these obvious solutions compete based on fair comparisons that integrate environmental aspects? Could new green business models like ESCO systems be applied to finance weight reductions in the maritime sector?

Theoretical framework:

Triple Helix innovation (Etzkowitz), lead user innovation (von Hippel), Network theory (Håkansson, Gadde and Ford), Eco-innovation (Machiba); Green Public Procurement 


A trans-national industry-headed R&D network is organizing a triple helix innovation process to remove institutional barriers.


Barriers have been identified and are now adressed at in a joint triple helix effort to ease the introduction of advanced composite ferries.