University of Twente Student Theses


How to be a successful Ecosystem Builder? : A qualitative approach to the Entrepreneurship-in-Networks model

Link, K. (2018) How to be a successful Ecosystem Builder? : A qualitative approach to the Entrepreneurship-in-Networks model.

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Abstract:The importance and value of innovation ecosystems has gained more attention as they are recognized as valuable sources of competitive advantages for all parties involved. Moreover, entrepreneurial ventures are considered to play a crucial role in such setting as they provide innovative input and are a driving force of regional growth. Many corporate and governmental institutions aim to harness the networking advantages of such ecosystems as well as the innovative power of startups. Although startups are therefore considered as key aspect in vivid ecosystems, they often lack the resources to fully implement their vision and many of them fail. One possible solution to two of these problems is the establishment of accelerators. They do not only support entrepreneurs but often also connect different actors that are interested in startups and the entrepreneurial culture. Accelerators are thus often considered as a bridge between different worlds. Moreover, there is a certain type of accelerator, the so-called Ecosystem Builder, that explicitly aims at providing support for startups as well as connecting them with the various stakeholders in order to foster entrepreneurship and its ecosystem. But what specifically needs to be offered by an Ecosystem Builder in order to be of value for the ventures and thus also for the ecosystem? To provide more insights on that, the Entrepreneurship-in-Networks model was applied as it suggests that new ventures require four types of capital to be successful: strategic, cultural, economic and social capital. Therefore, this concept was used to categorize the challenges encountered by the startups and the support mechanisms provided by Ecosystem Builder. To find out about the challenges and support mechanisms, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with six accelerators characterized as Ecosystem Builders that are located in Germany, the Netherlands and the US. These interviews were transcribed and analyzed based on a coding strategy that was inspired by the Grounded Theory. The results show that entrepreneurial ventures encounter various challenges, but the studied accelerators also provide numerous support mechanisms that can be allocated to the different capitals. Additionally, the analyzed data indicates that the four capitals of the Entrepreneurship-in-Networks model are interrelated and thus an adjusted version of this model is presented. Moreover, Ecosystem Builders appear to function as innovation intermediary between the different stakeholders. Therefore, there are four main take-aways for being a successful Ecosystem Builder: (1) provision of value for everyone involved, (2) developing an adapted accelerator structure, (3) provision of support for all four capitals, (4) provision of additional functions. These aspects were further used to derive the VACE (Value-Accelerator-Capitals-ESB Functions) Factors as guidelines for this specific accelerator type. The VACE factors are also applied in an illustrative case in order to demonstrate their applicability. Based on these various findings, this master thesis contributes to academia in four ways: (1) through the combination of different concepts, it provides a new perspective on possible measures to support entrepreneurial ventures in ecosystems, (2) certain challenges and support mechanisms revealed by the collected data were not discussed on previous studies, (3) the suggested adjustment of the Entrepreneurship-in-Networks model could support the refinement of future research based on this model, (4) the developed VACE Factors are a new theory on how to support entrepreneurial ventures and its ecosystem as Ecosystem Builder. The practical contribution covers three aspects: (1) the VACE Factors are used to develop a checklist which is a guideline for practitioners, plus its application is shown on illustrative case, (2) by structuring an Ecosystem Builder according to the VACE Factors, its attractivity for startups in increased, (3) thesis also provides guidance for startups that search for the most important benefits an Ecosystem Builder should offer them.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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