Participatory Innovation Ecosystem Mapping
2019 – Present
Molly Wenig Rubenstein
Mapping collaboration within innovation-oriented entrepreneurial ecosystems
This project is developing an approach to analyzing the dynamics of collaboration within innovation-oriented entrepreneurial ecosystems that combines methods from participatory action research, such as interactive workshops, with tools from social network mapping and complex network analysis.
The first phase of the project, implemented in person between May 2019 and February 2020, focused on identifying relationships of collaboration within prominent innovation-oriented entrepreneurial ecosystems in Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Groups of between 30-60 ecosystem actors in each city came together for two days to learn about each other’s work, identify existing assets and gaps in their ecosystems, and construct a sociogram of their ecosystem-related collaborations.
The second phase of the project, conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic, involved pivoting the in-person approach towards a fully remote mapping experience. This phase is ongoing and has extended the geography of ecosystem mapping into additional cities in the Americas and Europe.
Collaboration between the major players in an ecosystem matters. The extent to which the most collaborative actors in an entrepreneurial ecosystem collaborate with each other is strongly related to the overall structure of collaboration within the system. Ecosystems with highly collaborative leaders show a more robust and resilient collaborative structure overall, which benefits not only the leaders but other less centrally-positioned actors as well.
Understanding Innovation Ecosystems: A Framework for Joint Analysis and Action (MIT D-Lab publication, 2019)