Study on Innovation Ecosystems in Europe

What criteria define a successful innovation ecosystem?

Innovation takes increasingly place in innovation ecosystems. Innovation ecosystems allow its members to share resources and collaborate which are seen as essential to create innovation. This is why innovation ecosystems are increasingly established and supported by public and private organisations. But, managers of innovation ecosystems are facing many challenges and a lot of questions about innovation ecosystems are still unanswered. 


Mapping 247 innovation ecosystems in Europe:



Imec – SMIT – VUB on behalf of the Digital Transition Partnership  which brings cities, EU countries and the European Commission together, has conducted a study to find the influencing criteria of innovation ecosystems in Europe and to support managers of innovation ecosystems with new insights. The study was based on a survey conducted in June 2019, in which 325 experts of innovation ecosystems in Europe have shared their insights and knowledge. Information on a total of 247 innovation ecosystems could be collected and analysed. Data was collected from 35 countries and 163 cities covering almost all of Europe.

The study highlights that innovation ecosystems are highly complex structures. A one size fits all strategy for ecosystem development does not exist. Based on the findings, a typology of innovation ecosystems has been created through applying nine criteria, that are either pre-defined or can be influenced by ecosystem managers. Many different combinations of these criteria can be envisaged: (1) city size, (2) access to number of actors, (3) development stage, (4) scale of operation, (5) existing expertise and sector focus, (6) access to types of actors, (7) leading actors, (8) central entity, and (9) actions / goals. 

Looking at how successful the ecosystems that have been surveyed are seen, the study found that certain undefined criteria are more likely to create a successful ecosystem than others. This includes that innovation ecosystems operating at a national or international level are more likely to be successful than innovation ecosystems operating on city or local level; innovation ecosystems that include an incubator, an association, a cluster organisation, a project, or a technology park are more likely to be successful than innovation ecosystems solely involved with communities or co-working spaces; and leading individuals are highly connected to successful ecosystems. More insights can be found in the full report.


Criteria of an innovation ecosystem:


Please find the full report here.

For questions, please contact the author Marlen Komorowski via