What is an innovation ecosystem?
Innovation ecosystems are complex structures formed by the interaction of the participating community within an environment. A healthy ecosystem is one, in which participants can thrive and grow, it self-regulates and adapts as the market needs evolve. The community consists of industry participants, start-ups, and collaboration institutions, technical and business services. The environment is the core markets where the community coexist and the adjacent markets from which know-how is shared. The structures are the linkages within communities and environments.
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Why should it be assessed?
Innovation does not evolve in a vacuum (Moore 1993) and does not follow a linear mode of development. Rather, innovation processes are characterized by a broad variety of linkages, interactions and feedbacks between a diverse set of actors and activities (Freeman 1987, Lundvall 1992, Edquist 1997, 2005, Breschi & Malerba 1997).
Companies are not part of a single industry, but members of an innovation system that is composed of diverse actors which together create and capture new value through both collaboration and competition.
As DIHs are embedded in this innovation ecosystem, they need to be aware of their ecosystem in order to operate in a most efficient way. Analysing the innovation ecosystem allows DIHs to identify weak points and gaps within the regional system that hamper operation of DIH in order to create and support innovation. This gap analysis allows developing strategies and implementing measures for enhancing the regional innovation ecosystem in a systematic way.
How to assess the Innovation ecosystem?
Mapping of the innovation ecosystem of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) comprises of the following five steps. These steps provide a tool box for analysing the innovation ecosystem of DIHs. The steps should however be seen as guidance and adapted when appropriate.
- Overview and delineation of the geographic scope: in this step, the boundaries of the DIH need to be provided. For that purpose, a short description of the ecosystem is prepared, including geographic delineation, main economic sectors, and socio-cultural characteristics;
- Inventory of functions and actors: in this step, key functions and actors of the innovation ecosystem are identified and characterized, including core competences and role of the actors in the DIH;
- Illustrate a cooperation network: in this step, the interactions between the key actors of the innovation ecosystem are analysed and depicted;
- Gap analysis: based on the previous steps a summary assessment of gaps of the innovation ecosystem is developed, including information on weak or missing key actors and function in the ecosystem;
- SWOT analysis and conclusions: based on the SWOT analysis conclusions can be drawn for future action points which are most suitable for enhancing the function of the innovation ecosystem.
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