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Blog Category: Tom Guevara

Understanding and Measuring Innovation Ecosystems at the Global Innovation Summit

Understanding and Measuring Innovation Ecosystems at the Global Innovation Summit

Guest blog post by Tom Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairsl, U.S. Economic Development Administration 

There’s a lot of talk these days about “innovation ecosystems,” but what is an innovation ecosystem? What does it mean? Think about the ultimate ecosystem: earth. When we refer to the earth’s ecosystem, we are talking about the interconnectivity of animal, plant, and elements that sustain life. Well, an innovation ecosystem is the same idea. It’s everything in the environment, including and especially culture, that work together to foster and sustain innovation. How we create those ecosystems is at the core of the Global Innovation Summit, taking place this week in San Jose, California. 

The Global Innovation Summit is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators and those that support them from 50+ countries to come together to build solutions, apply new tools to accelerate innovation, and learn from one another. There are three central questions the summit seeks to answer: 

  • How do we build entrepreneurial ecosystems anywhere? 
  • How do we catalyze innovation across companies, cities and countries sustainably?
  • How do we accelerate entrepreneurship, technology and impact at scale? 

These are all questions that the U.S. Economic Development Administration grapples with every day. I am thrilled, therefore, to be participating and learning with over 500 innovators at the Summit, and to explore some of these issues in the two sessions I was asked to moderate: Design of Startup Ecosystems and Measuring, Understanding, and Driving Innovation Culture. 

What goes in to creating an innovation ecosystem? How do you create culture? Can you create a culture? Our discussion will examine several case studies in an attempt to answer these questions. I will be talking to Prafull Anubhai from Ahmedabad University in India about how he helped foster a culture of innovation through VentureStudio, and Isabel Alvarez-Rodriguez from the Inter-American Development Bank, who will discuss how they have used innovation to address the development challenges in Latin America. 

I will be joined by Julie Kirk, the Director of EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for my second session on measuring, understanding, and driving innovation culture. The session is jointly sponsored by Commerce, EDA, and T2 Venture Creation and will include Henry Doss and Alistair Brett the Chief Strategy Officer and International Technology Commercialization Advisor, respectively, for T2 Venture Creation. Julie will bring her experiences as an entrepreneur to bear on the conversation, highlighting her successes. The four of us will tackle the complex undertaking of building a strong culture of innovation and probably challenge a few misconceptions about how to go about designing and innovation ecosystem within an organization. 

I look forward to engaging discussions, thought-provoking debates, and collaborative opportunities during the Summit that will help us create a more innovative culture, economy, and world.