Many of our customers at EntreWorks Consulting want help with mapping their innovation and entrepreneurship-related ecosystems, i.e., the set of regional actors and networks that support the start and growth of businesses. For example, we’ll soon be releasing results from an Appalachian Regional Commission project on ecosystems in Appalachia. Mapping ecosystems can be challenging. There is no one best way to proceed, and sources of data can be difficult to access. It gets easier if you have lots of funding, which is rarely the case. (See these excellent World Bank studies for examples of in-depth and high-level, high cost mapping efforts).
If you’re interested in tips for ecosystem mapping, I can highly recommend a new and very detailed guide from the German Agency for International Cooperation. The Guide for Mapping the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem does what the title promises, offering a very hands-on set of tips on how to understand your regional ecosystem and how to measure its capacities and performance. As the Guide’s subtitle suggests, it will help you to observe, analyze, and visualize what’s happening with innovation and entrepreneurship in your community.