Does social dimension beat geographic clustering in creating tech innovation ecosystems in cities?
March 23, 2015 Editor 0The title of this blog entry is one of the many questions we’ve been asking in our research to identify key success factors for urban tech innovation ecosystems. We wanted to better understand what causes tech innovation and entrepreneurship to grow faster in some cities, as well as explore the potential of these ecosystems for creating new sources of employment and growth.
Traditionally, the focus has been in clustering: building technology parks or innovation districts where companies, research and development (R&D) labs, universities and other actors were placed together in a defined geographic district or area. We have challenged this unidirectional focus and looked beyond geography to understand how connections and the social dimension of the ecosystem impacted on its growth and sustainability.
The answer we are getting is that the social dimension not only matters, it matters quite a big deal. The social dimension is the “glue” of the ecosystem and expands it beyond geographic boundaries of districts or technology parks. Networking assets (specific actors and events that work as social networks nodes) keep this social dimension together, being central to the ecosystem.
When we explored the impact of the social and the geographic dimension of tech startups in their success (in terms of capital rising), we found a positive and significant correlation for the social dimension. We did not find any correlation for geographic location.
These findings are not yet conclusive, but they point to one important direction: policies need to focus more on the social dimension. Ecosystems need to be understood as a community that requires active nurturing and maintenance in order to thrive and grow. The geographic dimension seems to be a tool for the development of social connections, but it does not develop these connections by itself (something else is needed). This means that the focus of policy to support the ecosystems should pay attention to the development of networking assets that kick-start communities, build networks (such as meet-ups and mentoring) and provide platforms for community building ( such as collaboration spaces).
- Can urban innovation ecosystems be developed with little broadband infrastructure?
- Categorizing the collaboration and community promotion spaces that make urban innovation ecosystems tick
- From the pitch to the prize: building a company in 54 hours
- Four ways start-ups can transform a city
- We’ve updated the Africa tech hub map using your suggestions
- Negawatt in the making: Ghanaians host the first energy efficiency Challenge
Subscribe to our stories
- Virtual reality as an urban tourism destination marketing tool January 26, 2020
- Exploring VR experiences of tourists' attachment to a rural destination January 26, 2020
- Sustainable intensification: Is a systems perspective essential for integrated crop-livestock systems? January 16, 2020
- Disseminating maize agronomy technologies using interactive voice response in Malawi–the opportunities and pitfalls January 12, 2020
- Towards a communication-based typology of management control modes: showing the relevance of communicative action for entrepreneurial settings December 24, 2019