This article is the last of a three part series on the analysis of ecosystems.
The first article of the series focused on the identification and mapping of innovation ecosystems. The second one focused on technology evolution (technology roadmapping) and the identification of value within the product segments and architectures (value chain). The last one focuses on the identification of innovation hubs for future enabling technologies.
The innovation hub is where innovation occurs for a specific industry, functional area or skill. The hubs are formed on three axes, (1) technology providers, (2) facilitators and (3) technology seekers, shown on the graph below.
The technology providers are start-up firms, research institutions –laboratories and universities- and R&D driven corporations that develop enabling technologies for the market place.
The facilitators are investors, government agencies, and technology transfer specialists that provide ancillary services linking technology providers to seekers, accelerating the technology commercialization or acquisition process.
The technology seekers are firms or individuals that are in need of technology to enhance their product portfolio or to start a new venture. Large firms while inherently seekers tend to cover and participate on all three axes.
The innovation hubs are usually formed around one of the axes. They can be centralized around an industry or a company or decentralized with pockets around areas of expertise.
For example, the US carbon fiber hub is formed around OakRidge National Lab, a technology provider. ORNL physical facilities and a virtual research consortium drive hundreds of companies, from all over the U.S., to collaborate and innovate in carbon composite manufacturing. On the other hand we can see a more geographic approach if we look at the U.S. automotive innovation hub most of its participants reside within arm’s length of their customers, technology seekers, concentrated within a few miles of Detroit.
However, more and more, we experience that these hubs have satellite operations on adjacent markets to leverage that expertise. Automotive firms have innovation offices in Silicon Valley looking at infotainment and other IT related providers, likewise software and IT firms have offices in Detroit to capitalize on the automotive market.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are completely decentralized hubs like the wind industry innovation hub. In this case the hub is developed around areas of technical, or business specialization. We see turbine activity around Colorado due to National Renewable Energy Laboratory presence, and Chicago, for the industrial supply base of the Midwest. Then each company has gravitated toward partnerships with specific universities and technical specialists on one area of research, such as high power electronics, permanent magnet generators, aerodynamics, etc.
Firms need to leverage these innovation hubs to enhance their research capabilities while minimizing the development risk. Constant hubs scouting allows firms to detect technology trends and potential threats to the current product lines, while developing an inventory of technological solutions in development or commercialized on adjacent markets.
Scouting is a focused process, which complements internal R&D and marketing. It provides the detection and inventory of intellectual property leading to acquisition of a technology, process, product or know-how.
Innovation Ecosystems Summary
The innovation ecosystem analysis article set provides a systematic process to analyze market structure and dynamics of its members, coupled with market drivers and the future technologies to enable progress and vibrant markets.
The ecosystem map visualizes the structure of the industry indicating key players and the dynamics between the different players. Furthermore, it highlights the strength interaction with other industries.
The technology roadmap identifies market drivers and provides a glide path of potential technological solutions in a single document. In addition, the value chain map identifies the economic value of the different components with the value chain.
Innovation hub scouting identifies key players and locations where specific innovation is occurring. Subsequently, the detection and inventory of intellectual property and technology developments enhances the roadmapping process and future technology acquisition plans for corporate entities.
Innovation ecosystem Analysis is a critical business tool, which provides objective insight over industry structure and dynamics, the future direction of technology and the potential products and services required to succeed in the market.
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