The EU4Digital Facility has developed a guidebook for the design of ICT entrepreneurial ecosystem builder organisation(s) for the development and support of local ICT innovation entrepreneurial ecosystems in the six Eastern partner countries.
The guide provides information on the actions that should be implemented to establish and empower the ecosystem builders. This includes designing the operational structure of an such organisation, determining its main activities, performance indicators and processes. Finally, it includes a suggested framework for the preparation and implementation of an action plan dedicated to the development of the ecosystems.
Understanding the entrepreneurial ecosystem
The entrepreneurial ecosystem is the collection of entrepreneurs, start-ups, enablers, capacity builders, donors and regulators that operate with a shared objective to establish and grow innovative companies with a great capacity to scale and generate economic wealth. As pictured in the image, these actors are interconnected in a pyramidal structure in which each tier is responsible for empowering the actors that are operating in the layer below.
Conclusions from previous studies
During the previous maturity analysis, EU4Digital analysed the ICT entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Eastern partner countries, including the wealth and health of the start-ups. Crucially, it was indicated that start-up growth in the Eastern partner countries is considerably slower in comparison to EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Comprehensive analysis of different types of ecosystem enablers was completed for each of the Eastern partner countries. Enablers are organisations (i.e. VC funds, technology parks, business schools) that offer entrepreneurs and start-ups access to the resources they need. It was concluded that the ecosystem enablers that are responsible for supporting and facilitating the start-up development are underperforming in comparison to CEE.
Ecosystem enablers are a critical part of the ecosystem. They are on the second level of the pyramid, directly supporting with resources the start-ups and entrepreneurs which form the foundation of the ecosystem. Their emergence in the ecosystem should not be taken for granted. Their establishment and development with lesser or greater success is driven by ecosystem builders that are organisations (such as SMEs and innovation agencies, public and private organisations) aiming to create high performing enablers in the ecosystem.
Why ecosystem builders are needed: final recommendation
One of the key reasons why ecosystem enablers (educators, investors, facilitators and connectors) in the Eastern partner countries are performing at a comparably lower level is because there are few or no ecosystem builder organisations in the region. Ecosystem builders are on the third level of the ecosystem pyramid, providing support to the ecosystem enablers.
Furthermore, public bodies in the region often lack the relevant knowledge or expertise in ecosystem building. Therefore, it was identified that there is a need for guidance in ecosystem building that would be dedicated to the governments, business agencies, SME agencies as well as the international organisations that conduct development programmes in the region.
This leads to the final recommendation of this guide: policy makers should develop and coordinate implementation of an action plan for the empowerment of the ICT entrepreneurial ecosystems, primarily by establishing and supporting ecosystem builder organisations.
The guide outlines a suggested framework for implementation, starting with the selection of a national coordinator and preparation of a national action plan that will involve all the national ecosystem builders in their responsibility to create, empower and boost the ecosystem enablers.
Contents of the guide
The document provides information on the following:
- Definition of an ecosystem builder, classification, mission and vision;
- Enablers of the ecosystem: start-up needs and roles / responsibilities of the ecosystem enablers;
- Key activities: operational (creating, empowering and boosting), financing and internal;
- Corporate governance, organisational structure, and main principles;
- KPIs and targets: strategic and operational indicators;
- Final recommendations and case studies.
The guidebook is available for download on the EU4Digital Library here.