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The emergence of an innovation ecosystem in a low innovation region: Disrupting inertia by a young university


  • Elisa Villani

    () (University of Bologna, Italy)

  • Christian Lechner

    () (Free University of Bolzano, Italy)


Innovation ecosystems are characterised by a variety of complementary actors and relationships among them. Universities are considered a key player in innovation ecosystems for their ability of generating knowledge and qualified expertise for entrepreneurial innovation. While much attention has been paid to mature ecosystems characterised by cutting-edge technologies, the role of less established universities in less innovative regions, characterised by a lack of relationships, familyowned firms, difficult university-industry collaborations, but great potential, has remained very much underexplored. Based on a longitudinal case study of a young university in Italy, this paper aims at contributing to existing literature by looking at the role of the university in defining actors’ positions and relationships in establishing an innovation ecosystem. In doing so, we contribute to existing literature in several ways. First, we highlight that the formation of an innovation ecosystem in a small area highly depends on the university’s potential of disrupting established relationships, creating new ones and, thus, playing an active role in designing the ecosystem. Second, we provide a process-based view for understanding the establishment of an innovation ecosystem through the evolution of interactions, roles and activities. Finally, we describe the micro-dynamics characterising innovation ecosystem emergence and institutionalisation and we show that bottomup approaches are possible as well.

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  • Elisa Villani & Christian Lechner, 2019. "The emergence of an innovation ecosystem in a low innovation region: Disrupting inertia by a young university," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS63, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
  • Handle: RePEc:bzn:wpaper:bemps63

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Ecosystems; university; university-industry collaboration; innovation; longitudinal case study;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • M10 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - General

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