Innovation Ecosystem

An innovation ecosystem is comprised of the people, resources, industries, institutions and policies that “promote the translation of new ideas into products, processes and services,” according to the National Science Foundation.

Innovation ecosystems foster complex relationships between these entities, including those that provide material resources, such as capital, facilities, and equipment, as well as human capital, including students, researchers, engineers, venture capitalists, and policy makers. A successful innovation ecosystem bridges the divide between the knowledge economy and the commercial economy to promote research and development, facilitate new technologies, and incubate early stage businesses.

“One of the reasons the innovation sector still creates plentiful jobs is that it continues to be a labor-intensive sector, since the main production input in scientific research is human capital — in other words, people and their ideas.”

– Enrico Moretti, The New Geography of Jobs

Seamless connections between researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and non-dilutive capital are vital for advanced energy technology businesses to thrive. Robust innovation ecosystems include efficient intellectual property protection mechanisms, mentoring for entrepreneurs, engagement of business and venture capital, and investment resources, like incubators and accelerators, that support the creation of new companies and commercialization of novel technologies. An incubator is designed to provide support services to early-stage startups. Incubator assistance can include office space, professional networks, access to financing, and business skill training. Accelerators assist companies in the later stages of business development, usually addressing short-term needs such as product launches.

Policymakers can create a strong innovation ecosystem by aligning current efforts within the innovation ecosystem, streamlining intellectual property processes, and incentivizing the creation of startups. Explore more best practice strategies that build and bolster the innovation ecosystem in our policy bank.