Are regional strengths a thing of the past? Do governments and regional industries now need new strategies to support innovation and entrepreneurial capacity in a globalised world?
Dr Lawrence Dooley, of the University College Cork, considers the ecosystem as fundamental to nurturing successful start-ups, scaling existing ventures and co-creating innovations that build new capabilities and appropriate value. And yet, despite our appreciation of the ecosystem’s importance, he acknowledges that our detailed understanding of ‘how’ it impacts and the factors that can be manipulated to optimise the desired outcome remains underdeveloped.
To explore this challenge the R&D Management journal has opened a call for papers from the R&D Management community, “The role of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Technological and Social Challenges”.
Lawrence explains: “In the past, industry was regional based, with enterprise sustainability based on meeting the needs of their regional/national markets relative to other local enterprise.
“However today, markets are global, with competition pushing the boundaries of competitive performance such as technological novelty, quality, speed and cost. Thus Government and their regional industry must be concerned by their relative position within the globalised world and how their innovative, entrepreneurial capacity can be enhanced for competitive advantage.”
External environment needed to support entrepreneurs
Harnessing the competitive and synergistic benefits of regions, not only in terms of local geography and resource availability but also in terms of social network behaviour and supportive infrastructure is something Governments across the globe have endeavoured to master with national and regional policies eg OECD 2014.
The supportive nature of the external environment can impact in multiple ways: –
- Provide inputs to the R&D process
- Support synergistic co-creation
- Offer lead customers that support development and wider market acceptance
- Create state policy initiatives that incentivise certain stakeholder behaviour.
There are many examples of organisations that have benefited from collaboration and knowledge spill-over synergies with public and private organisations within their region. The phenomenon has been written about under headings such as industrial districts, clusters and more recently, entrepreneurial ecosystems.
In recent decades, we have witnessed increased interventions to bring together the key stakeholders of University-Industry-Government-Society (Etzkowitz, 2001; Pique, Berbegal-Mirabent, & Etzkowitz, 2018) for mutual benefit.
Significant funding has been committed to advance such activities (Block, 2008). Carayannis et al. (2018) highlight that, “regions are increasingly being viewed as ecosystemic agglomerations of organizational and institutional entities or stakeholders with socio-technical, socio-economic, and socio-political conflicting as well as converging (coopetitive) goals, priorities, expectations, and behaviors that they pursue via entrepreneurial development, exploration, exploitation, and deployment actions, reactions and interactions.“(p. 148).
Entrepreneurship has been comprehensively studied in multiple streams, perspectives and entities
Prosperous entrepreneurial and open innovation systems (Dabrowska et al., 2019), supported by Government regional policy, offer the potential of sustainable economic advantage.
Support for Open Innovation – open innovation has nurtured inter-institutional collaboration and harnessed external resources available from a variety of ecosystem stakeholders (Dabrowska et al., 2019). Furthermore, intermediaries and physical infrastructure to support open innovation activity has been developed (e.g. accelerators, living labs, social innovation labs, open labs), nurturing advantageous interaction and co-creation for both economic and societal value (Silva and Wright, 2019).
High growth entrepreneurship – the value of a more systems-based perspective of support for “high growth entrepreneurship”, is beginning to be recognised. This approach moves away from bounded, enterprise specific initiatives towards more holistic efforts, focused on developing networks, aligning priorities, building new institutional capabilities and fostering synergies between different stakeholders (OECD, 2014, p. 5).
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (EE) – the perspective of ‘entrepreneurial ecosystems’ (EE) (Isenberg, 2014; Stam, 2015; Zacharakis et al., 2003) is gaining dominance as the preferred approach for fostering entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy. Silicon Valley is evidence that successful EE can generate internal dissimilarities (OECD, 2014) and yet, what happens to the spatial “losers” produced by successful policy is unclear.
Still unanswered questions about entrepreneurial ecosystems
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (EE) have become a widely used approach to stimulating entrepreneurship, innovation and technological development. While there is a growing consensus about what an EE is, our understanding of how different ecosystem ‘engagements’ lead to different outcomes remains unclear.
Important questions remain such as:
- How do ecosystems – intrinsically based on the role of ‘local’ fertilisation – interact with regional clusters and innovation platforms?
- In what way does the nature of a firm’s interaction with its stakeholders influence ecosystem structure and vice versa?
- What capabilities at a firm level, and also network level, are required to nurture knowledge-based ecosystems firms and support their growth?
- Which business models are most effective at the ecosystem level in creating sustainable innovative capacity and entrepreneurial fitness?
Call for papers: Role of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Technological and Social Change
Despite many studies on the subject, there is a lack of theoretical underpinning to understand this phenomenon and its influence on R&D management.
With this in mind, the R&D Management journal has opened a special issue call for papers to shed light on the empirical and theoretical dimensions of ‘Role of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Technological and Social Change’.
All relevant research is welcome and we are especially looking for both empirical and conceptual papers that focusing on different levels of analysis, from micro-foundations at the microeconomic level to dynamics at the meso and macro level that foster entrepreneurial, innovative, and smart ecosystems.
The deadline for submission of full papers is 30 June 2021 and further information on this open call is available on the R&D Management Journal website