The workshop focused on the issues of measurement and metrics – how can we measure entrepreneurial ecosystems and what challenges do we need to overcome?
The first key note was given by Prof. Jonathan Levie. Drawing on his research and observation in Scotland and other international projects, Professor Levie demonstrated different data-sets, comparative approaches and methodologies for measuring entrepreneurial ecosystems (e.g. GEM, REAP). He argued that “one size does not fit all” and that a key challenge includes understanding a complex set of interacting individual and institutional variables. He emphasised the importance of methodologies and framework that identify the strength of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems by capturing the multi-dimensional nature of ecosystem conditions going beyond national level data sets.
Policy session started with Dr Jonathan Potter, Head of Entrepreneurship Policy and Analysis Unit, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities. Drawing on recent OECD work on Local Entrepreneurship Ecosystems and Emerging Industries, Dr Potter argued that the ecosystems framework could be useful for creating a typology of regions, helping regions to identify with similar challenges from which they can get inspiration, and to enhance policy capacity. He emphasised the importance of having quantitative data combined with a rich qualitative element to be able to assess the real policy development opportunities in specific regions.
Professor Tim Vorley discussed opportunities and challenges in relation to entrepreneurial ecosystem concept and public policy in the UK context. Experimental governance sees goals, metrics, and decision-making subject to an ever-widening circle of actors, and experimental policy promotes targeted programmes that adopt experimental principles. He emphasised the need of more cautious and circumspect use of ecosystems thinking and greater consideration of the institutional challenge(s).
Specific regional contexts of entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems in Scotland were further elaborated by Ms. Chantale Tippet, NESTA; and Mr. James Muldoon, Scottish Government. Ms Tippet introduced NESTA’s Innovation Mapping project in Scotland. Mr Muldoon, Head of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Support Policy, Scottish Government, talked about Scotland Can Do initiatives and opened up discussion about the nature of policy interventions.
The afternoon sessions kicked off with Dr Tuukka Toivonen, who suggested to extend the boundaries of our entrepreneurial ecosystem concept to incorporate co-working spaces by introducing a selection of notable co-working initiatives in Japan and the UK with contrasting cultural and social contexts. He identified two approaches to measuring the creative benefits of innovation spaces: the first focuses on mapping out the incidence of creative interactions (e.g. interactions that generate novelty or that meaningfully challenge the emerging idea/business model of an entrepreneur); and the second seeks to trace individual idea journeys.
The UK/Japan session aimed at sharing diverse perspectives to ecosystems across the two countries. The business and practitioner panel started off with Mr Gregory Sutch, CEO of Intralink Group, who highlighted the dynamics of global open innovation ecosystems from a business consultancy perspective, connecting start-ups and large multinationals at a global scale. He then illuminated the ongoing ‘open Innovation revolution’ in Japan, driven by ‘existential threat to old economy companies’. Mr Simon Spier, techUK, highlighted the policy contexts of technology collaboration between the UK and Japan, and the positioning of tech companies in the global market. Mr Andrew Stevens of JLGC in London discussed the roles of knowledge brokers in the changing ecosystems in the UK and Japan, issues of multi-level governance and the value of city networks.
Three academic collaborators from Japan highlighted different institutional contexts and different frameworks to understand and measure innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Japan. Professor Koichi Sumikura focused on university-industry links as key element of science-based innovation in Japan highlighting the issues of measuring the ecosystem under different social rules and practices. Professor Kanetaka Maki discussed the role of ‘star scientists’ in the ecosystems drawing on time-series data-sets to understand the evolution of the Japanese ecosystem. Professor Hiroyuki Okamuro highlighted the nature of data management and policy evaluation in the context of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Japan. He introduced the background of recent decentralizing local economic development policy in Japan, and discussed recent initiatives in collaboration with a private sector, that combine publicly available database services with micro-level use of big data to capture locally relevant data.
In the final session, Mapping ecosystems - new perspectives and emerging methodologies, the series of presentations demonstrated innovative new research methodologies to capture multi-dimensional ecosystems.
Dr Ben Spigel presented his work using LinkedIn to understand the nature of ‘recycling’ in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, emphasising the importance of relational data. Mr Augusto Rocha showed his unique data-sets using meetup to analyse network events and the roles of digital platform in the evolution of the ecosystem. Ms. Michaela Hruskova discussed entrepreneurship support landscape in Glasgow emphasising the evolving needs of businesses, hence the new support mechanisms also need to evolve. Dr Rhiannon Pugh looked into mapping of entrepreneurial ecosystems of creative industry – what does mapping tell us in a specific sector - what an entrepreneurial ecosystem looks like in space, adding the local geography into the discussion. Dr Max Nathan provided an overview of the day - he emphasised the importance of triangulation of methodology, and challenges of mapping – how do we understand microfoundations of entrepreneurial ecosystem, and what do we aim to evaluate with different types and nature of data and tools emerging?