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Innovation Ecosystems

Local innovation ecosystems enable places to produce innovation and sustain processes of innovation over time, yet they are complex phenomena and not well understood. The research we conducted under this theme seeks to bring theory and practice together to shed light on what these ecosystems contain, how they function, why they matter, and what practical steps can be taken to grow and strengthen them.  

Our work in this area ranges from the conceptual to the highly practical—from creating frameworks and conceptual models to developing applied methods for identifying and convening ecosystem actors. Running through this work is an interest in identifying and sharing effective strategies for developing and strengthening local innovation ecosystems that can be applied across diverse contexts.  

Related Publications and Resources 

Facilitating Innovation Ecosystem Strengthening: Lessons from the Next i2i Program (MIT D-Lab Publication, 2021) 

Understanding Innovation Ecosystems: A Framework for Joint Analysis and Action (MIT D-Lab Publication, 2019)

Executive Summary reports of ecosystem mapping efforts in six cities (in Spanish) 

Participatory Innovation Ecosystem Mapping

Mapping collaboration within innovation-oriented entrepreneurial ecosystems…read more

Innovation Ecosystem Analysis and Strengthening

Identifying opportunities and effective strategies for strengthening local innovation ecosystems… read more


Strengthening higher education capacity for development-oriented research and innovation in Guatemala …read more


Elizabeth Hoffecker
Principal Investigator

Eunhae Lee
Graduate Research Assistant


Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) 
Ashesi University  
Global Ecosystem Dynamics   


USAID’s Innovation, Technology, and Research (ITR) Hub within the Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation (DDI)

Banco Santander 

Next Area: Local Innovation Capacity