What is an Innovation Ecosystem and Its Roles
To understand why Silicon Valley has become one of the best-known innovation ecosystems globally, we will analyze the ecosystem concept and see what roles are necessary for this model to drive such successful organizations.
The term ecosystem has its origin in biology and is composed of a community of independent organisms that share the same habitat. From their interactions, matter and energy are obtained, resulting in the ecosystem’s balance.
In a business innovation ecosystem, the aim is to create a habitat where the efforts, perspectives and potentialities of different organizations come together to go beyond the limits of each of the entities and, through collaboration, transform knowledge into innovation.
Not all ideas are ideal and can be put not all into practice. According to Ken Robinson, one of the world’s leading experts on developing creativity and innovation, “innovation is applied creativity.” The environment’s ecosystem can ensure that an idea that initially seems strange ends up revolutionizing a business model or even an entire industry.
What is an Innovation Ecosystem?
Innovation is the process of putting new ideas into practice. Creativity is putting intelligence into action and coming up with original ideas that have value. Therefore, an innovation ecosystem is an ideal environment to accompany the view from its creation to its implementation in the market. It is the habitat of innovation.
Creating an environment that stimulates independent and creative thinking is the way to create an ideal framework for the ecosystem to be nourished and maintain its balance.
What is the role of organizations in this continuous learning ecosystem? The greatest threat to innovation is an organizational culture that does not accept failure. At the same time, those companies committed to promoting curiosity will be ideal for creation to flow successfully.
Roles of an Innovation Ecosystem
Each party develops a specific function or role in the ecosystem in this innovative environment. Each actor can be clear about what needs they must meet and what results they must contribute: inform, provide, train or finance, among others. Six typifications define this ecosystem model that we are going to describe below:
The role of the articulator is to ensure the creation of spaces and platforms for the different actors to collaborate actively. The articulators provide stability and are usually organizations with public and social interests framed in various economic sectors. These can be state secretariats, institutions, NGOs, or municipal institutions.
The linkers are usually public or private institutions whose objective is to connect organizations with similar interests to take advantage of synergies and gain more incredible momentum among themselves. These can be business chambers, industry councils, etc.
These actors are the ones who feed the ecosystem with resources to promote the development of new innovative projects inside or outside the habitat itself. The enablers provide the tools, financial resources or infrastructure, talent, and consulting, among many others. They are usually organizations that offer this type of tool to entrepreneurs: incubators, accelerators, investment funds, training centers, coworking spaces, etc.
They are the actors who generate knowledge and who, in turn, drive the creation of new projects and innovative technologies. Knowledge generators are organizations focused on research, such as development, research, design centers or research and development departments in universities, etc.
The print or digital media usually carry out this role, and their objective is to disseminate entrepreneurship to achieve the scalability of ecosystems and foster a culture of innovation.
At their birth, they are not formally organized communities and created to share knowledge and mutual support. They grow and develop beyond government policies, providing stability and sustainability to the ecosystem. Societies can exist inside or outside institutions of all kinds but always maintain their autonomy.