What is an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem?

“Ecosystem” has become a catch phrase for almost every professional community. Ecosystems are closed systems where every part is dependent on and provides for every other part of the system.

An entrepreneurial ecosystem is no different. The right environment must surround a business in order for it to thrive. A community of great thinkers and inventors will need adequate funding and resources to thrive and make an impact. Likewise, funders won’t take notice of exceptional new science without the presence of ideas and businesses to invest in.

Though this seems like a simple concept, ensuring that our region has all the components needed is a complex process. Kentucky has many of the assets needed for a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, there are pieces that are either missing or underdeveloped.

Last year, the state of Kentucky entered into a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP). Through the MIT REAP process, we are exploring the various elements of the ecosystem in our state.

Visit MIT's Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program website to learn more about the Kentucky REAP team and the work we are doing.

    

Our New Series: Translating Kentucky's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

In the coming months, we will be providing an overview of various stakeholders and indicators needed for an ecosystem. Some of the series will review the various stakeholder groups that are necessary. From government entities who provide policy and initiatives to spur growth, to risk-capital investors who provide the funding to help develop enterprises. From corporations who provide research and development and often serve as a first customer for investors, to higher education institutions that provide academic research, leadership and rigor to the pursuit of intellectual property that could be commercialized. And, at the center of it all, the entrepreneurs who risk much to create new businesses.

We will also explore various indicators needed to grow our ecosystem. Infrastructure, mindset, education, capital access, and customer demand are some of the many facets of an ecosystem.

Ecosystems, though, are not all the same. The needs of a business designed to scale rapidly in a global market are not necessarily the same needs of a business intended to serve local or even regional economies. In the coming issues of this series, some indicators and stakeholders play a more critical role to those innovation-driven enterprises.

To what end? CEDIK has created this series to share data and information that can help individuals and organizations in their impact on Kentucky’s entrepreneurial environment. Every month we will introduce the audience to a new element for the ecosystem.