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. 


Mapping local innovation ecosystems 

Preliminary visualization of ecosystem map from Santiago de Chile

This project is identifying the relevant features of local innovation and innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems and developing novel methods for researching and mapping them. In collaboration with the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Initiative, we are building a repository of ecosystem maps and methodological guidance to assist with ecosystem mapping initiatives around the world. Read more about our first study in this project, Participatory Innovation Ecosystem Mapping.

Strengthening local innovation ecosystems 

Participants at an ecosystem workshop

This project involves identifying and sharing effective strategies and best practices for developing robust local innovation ecosystems. The findings from this research are shared broadly with practitioners and ecosystem-builders through presentations, webinars, and ecosystem-strengthening workshops.

Related Publications

Facilitating Innovation Ecosystem Strengthening: Lessons from the Next i2i Program
Elizabeth Hoffecker, Sher Vogel, and Gordon Adomza / December 2021/ D-Lab Publication

Understanding Innovation Ecosystems: A Framework for Joint Analysis and Action
Elizabeth Hoffecker / June 2019/ D-Lab Publication

Why Cultivating Your Innovation Ecosystem Is Worth the Work
Elizabeth Hoffecker / September 2018 / Stanford Social Innovation Review

Enabling Innovation Ecosystems in Emerging Markets: Key Challenges and Five Recommendations
Elizabeth Hoffecker / April 2016 / Blog Post


Elizabeth Hoffecker, Research Scientist