“Entrepreneurship ecosystem.” Although the term has been used by academics and practitioners widely in the last few years, little is known about how ecosystems are structured, vary by region, evolve over time, or function for different sub-groups of entrepreneurs. Scholars and practitioners led the presentations, while attendees included policymakers and leaders from entrepreneurship support organizations.
The conference provided insights on entrepreneurship ecosystems and areas for further study. Below is a summary of the second half of the conference: the research presented, main topics, and key takeaways. The blog is structured in two parts, make sure to check out the first post Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Conference: Part 1.
Universities, especially ones that conduct research are seen as a necessary player to a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and as an engine of economic growth. In this session, both presenters found that Universities are necessary to an entrepreneurship ecosystem, but in specific context. They demystify this myth and look at what important role universities do play.
Myth. Research universities are engines of entrepreneurial and innovation activities.
Importance. The findings above are not to say universities are unimportant to entrepreneurship. Rather, there are certain aspects of universities that are much more important to entrepreneurship ecosystems that need to be focused on more.
The major themes discussed during this session were on how to make entrepreneurship ecosystems more representative of their population base. Gender and immigration were the two subjects of the presentations. Issues as to why there is a lack of diversity among gender and immigrants were discussed, as well as strategies to overcome them.
Issues. Most entrepreneurship communities are not the most diverse or inclusive. This isn’t necessarily due to anyone’s intention, but to natural tendencies and lack of proactively making one’s community more diverse.
Watkins proposed strategies for both support organizations and policy makers on how to make their entrepreneurship ecosystem more diverse and inclusive.
In order to make sense of the numerous variables in a complex entrepreneurial ecosystem, researchers are creating tools to visually analyze ecosystems. The goals are to better understand specific cities ecosystems and be able to compare ecosystems.
Three examples of impressive ecosystem mapping is below:
While most of the research discussed during the conference isn’t published yet, there have been two related papers on entrepreneurship ecosystems published by Kauffman researchers. The first is the working paper How to Measure an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, a necessary read for anyone aiming to map or measure the vibrancy of their ecosystem. The second paper is Enabling Entrepreneurship Ecosystems, which lists six specific strategies for entrepreneurship ecosystems.
For full coverage on the conference, make sure to check out the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Conference: Part 1.
Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Conference: Part 1
REER Conference 2015