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How to Read and Understand an S&T/Innovation Ecosystem Map

By 01/04/2016September 7th, 2018No Comments

S&T/Innovation Maps display large amounts of complex data/information in a visual manner that makes it easy to understand the relationships between various players within an innovation ecosystem. An in-depth study of national S&T/Innovation ecosystems is achieved by focusing on four major stakeholder groups and the relationships among them, as noted below.

1) Stakeholders

Groups Entities Description of Function
1.Governments Federal and Provincial Departments, Agencies, Crown Corporations Government provides a variety of services and programs that support Higher Education and the Private Sector. These can be in the form of grants, contributions, loans, tax incentives, advisory services etc. Government is also responsible for providing the macroeconomic and regulatory environment within which companies operate.


2.Higher Education Colleges, Universities, Polytechnics Higher Education is responsible for creating new knowledge and training new talent. This new knowledge can be produced through either basic or applied R&D (in Canada however there is a greater emphasis on the former).


3.Private Sector Businesses, Associations, Networks Private Sector uses knowledge for commercial purposes and benefits from talent to create value in both domestic and global markets. Businesses receive incentives and support from organizations throughout the ecosystem to increase their competitiveness and success. They create well paying jobs that help increase a country’s standard of living and quality of life. The Private Sector also provides Risk capital (VenCap, Angel, etc.) to support SMEs with high growth potential.


4.Global Markets Domestic and International Markets, Bodies, Agreements and Competitors Global markets represent customers for goods and services, international organizations, bodies, agreements that have influence/impact on particular sectors. Finally, global markets influence innovation through the presence of competitors, who also receive incentives and support from their own governments to expand into new markets.

2) Flows between Stakeholders

Relationships between each of these major innovation stakeholder groups are illustrated by the flows of 4 key things:

  1. People (ex. highly qualified personnel, researchers, etc.)
  2. Money (ex. grants, contributions, research expenditures, tax expenditures, risk capital, revenues from sales, etc.)
  3. Information (ex. patents, licences, research results, market research, advice, etc.)
  4. Physical Material (ex. machinery, equipment, resources, etc.)

The volume and quality of these four flows among the stakeholder groups, impacts the overall performance of the innovation ecosystem. An examination of these flows is the key in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the ecosystem.


3) Input-Output (Results)

The Ecosystem Maps are intended to be read in a particular order, from left to right. For example, from A to E below:

  1. Governments create the overall environment within which each group operates, and provide leadership in identifying the spending and tax support to underpin both the Higher Education and the Private Sector in the performance of the entire ecosystem;
  2. Higher Education conducts over 40% of all Canadian research (basic and applied) which has the possibility of being commercialized, while also training highly qualified personnel (HQP) that are needed by companies;
  3. The Private Sector employs HQP to commercialize research and its own innovative ideas, operate the business, and enter new markets (domestically and internationally);
  4. Global Markets represent both the customers and competition for innovative products and services created by Canada’s Private Sector; and
  5. Results are produced in the Innovation Ecosystem when Canadian firms sell their innovative products and services to customers in the marketplace. As these products and services are purchased and used, they generate economic, social and environmental results.