More Art than Science? Exploring the Roles of Technology Innovation Hubs for Urban Regions in Developing Countries
EU-SPRI Forum, Early Career Researcher Conference 2014, "INGENIO PhD Days"
34 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2018
Date Written: March 24, 2014
Technology innovation hubs (TIHs), an emerging phenomenon in developing countries, offer a combination of business incubation services and open convening spaces, events, and innovation competitions. To understand TIHs’ roles and identify pathways for future research, I analyzed data from interview and focus groups with 220 stakeholders of seven TIHs in five countries, using an informed grounded theory approach. Theory from economic geography (on regional advantage, regional innovation systems, and clusters) provided the most useful perspectives, which I related to themes emerging from the data. I found that TIH stakeholders saw themselves and the TIH as part of an “innovation ecosystem,” with ecosystems growing and maturing in distinct patterns over time. Ecosystem quality was understood as the completeness of complementary actor groups. TIHs functioned predominantly as linkage builders between ecosystem actors and actor groups. TIHs promoted innovation ecosystems in particular by creating visibility for small enterprise and individual innovators, by leveraging and pooling larger organizations’ resources, and by feeding “buzz” in the ecosystem. TIHs had multi-stakeholder governance and engagement models, leading to both advantages and frictions. For future research, I propose a theoretical framework of innovation networking, integrating literature from economic geography and network science. I conclude that future TIH analysis ought to examine TIHs’ shaping of innovation networks (as the relational structure of innovation ecosystems) for the largest potential theoretical and empirical contributions.
Keywords: innovation hubs, technology entrepreneurship, Global South, innovation ecosystems, clusters
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