A new Ecosystem Health Check for your Startup Community
Swisscontact and Startup Heatmap Europe* have joined forces to develop a self-serving toolkit that empowers startup hubs all around the world to measure the health of their ecosystems. The toolkit supports managers of startup programs, university incubators, research transfer organizations, ecosystem builders and policy makers to track the progress of their ecosystem build-up.
In essence, an entrepreneurial ecosystem is the dynamic mix of visible and invisible elements that coincide and which together create the environment in which entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. However, how we measure the quality and impact of both visible and invisible elements has been a great challenge. But there is an old wisdom that only things that are understood can be developed and only things that can be measured can be improved.
Our Ecosystem Health Toolkit is a self-serving tool that includes a self-serving online KPI dashboard to be filled by local ecosystem professionals as well as an extensive user guide including two cases where the tool has been put into action (Cologne Germany and Guatemala City). We also provide a theoretical framework, that provides the reasoning and logic our tool is based on.
The tool’s strength is that it can be used by professionals on the ground. It was our objective to develop a practical and easy-to-use tool that empowers local ecosystem builders and help them in their work by focusing on gaining validated learnings to check if an entrepreneurial ecosystem project is on the right path to achieving systemic growth and development. The framework is based on four dimensions, each having two metrics that ecosystem builders can connect with the data they have available or find most important for their ecosystem. The tool is suitable for both, early stage and more mature ecosystems, in both, emerging and developed economies.
At the core of the concept is the Ecosystem Nutrition Cycle that shows how entrepreneurs are able to create more value based on the framework conditions they face. Is there strong startup support that catches failing business and makes their knowledge available for future ventures? Is there a culture and social capital to support open exchange and collaboration? Do regulators and policy makers create a favourable setting for serial entrepreneurs to re-invest and grow new companies?
While the tool does not have pre-set answers, it guides local ecosystem builders through the process of asking the right questions and selecting suitable metrics to measure progress in the local setting.
The result is a powerful KPI dashboard, which can be regularly filled by ecosystem builders, e.g. on a half-year basis, to track their startup scene’s progress.
With the toolkit, ecosystem builders will be able – based on the mandate of all key actors – to implement strategic alignment and policy development as well as mobilise investments towards sectors of the ecosystem that ought to be developed.
Check out these case studies that applied the ecosystem health check.