Innovation Hubs in Africa: An Entrepreneurial Perspective

18 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2018

See all articles by Nicolas Friederici

Nicolas Friederici

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: May 25, 2017


Innovation hub organizations, or hubs, have proliferated across the African continent, which has caused excitement but also disillusionment among stakeholders of technology entrepreneurship. This paper takes a step back from the debate about whether hubs work, and instead tries to clarify what work hubs do for African technology entrepreneurs. The study summarizes practical implications from a multi-year empirical inquiry into how hubs work, and documents the perspective of entrepreneurs. The findings show that entrepreneurial participation in hubs is a key success factor. However, hub participation is socially complex, in that different entrepreneurs’ decisions and levels of commitment continuously affect each other. The paper then discusses what difference innovation hubs can realistically make for technology entrepreneurs, highlighting that hubs’ biggest potential lies in creating communities of entrepreneurs, while they rarely have significant impact on any given entrepreneur’s individual journey. Hubs are thus facilitators and not creators of interactive, collaborative, and collective entrepreneurial value creation. They depend on active participation of their constituents and on a good fit with their local environments. Funders, leaders, and supporters are thus advised to refrain from seeing hubs as interventions that lead to linear impact chains, as this misconception appears to have caused many false expectations towards African hubs.

Keywords: innovation hubs, technology entrepreneurship, Africa, entrepreneurial ecosystems, incubators, entrepreneurial communities

Suggested Citation

Friederici, Nicolas, Innovation Hubs in Africa: An Entrepreneurial Perspective (May 25, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Nicolas Friederici (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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