Supported by the ESRC UK-Japan Connection Grant1, two workshops were recently held on the topic of Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystems in the UK (University of Glasgow) and Japan (Tokyo).

The UK and Japanese academic team consists of members from the Universities of Aston, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sheffield, Hitotsubashi, Tohoku, Toyo and Waseda, and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). This team brings together international experiences from a diverse range of city-region and regional perspectives.

The partnership also includes institutional collaborations with the Japan Local Government Centre (JLGC) in London, and the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These knowledge partners jointly add value through dissemination and engaging networks of practice.

Measuring Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystems

In May, more than 60 academics, practitioners, and policy makers from the UK and Japan met at the University of Glasgow with the support of the ESRC's UK-Japan connections grant for two days of discussion. It aimed to develop a new, more granulated understanding of the heterogeneous nature of ecosystems and their complex interactions with public policies in the two countries.

Contributors included Professor Jonathan Levie (NUI Galway), Dr Jonathan Potter (OECD) and Dr Tuukka Toivonen (Creative Friction/UCL), as well as academic, policy, and industry speakers from the UK and Japan.

Measuring Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystems Workshop

Place-based Ecosystems: Making Connections Between Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Held in Tokyo at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), over 100 participants gathered in June to discuss place-based innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems from cross-national perspectives. The participants from Japan included:

  • Local government officials from across the country
  • Delegates from the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR)
  • Representatives of central government (e.g. Cabinet Office; Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)
  • Professionals including those in the banking and finance sectors
  • Researchers and practitioners engaged in local planning and development
  • Innovation and technology transfer officers from public research institutes
  • NPOs

Place-based Ecosystems Workshop

Next Steps

Beyond Japan and the UK, we recognise the multiplicity of entrepreneurial ecosystem models across countries in East Asia, North America, and Europe. There is a lack of evidence regarding the following questions:

  1. What are the key drivers of the diversity of entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems?
  2. How do different entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems vary in their performance?

We need to investigate the institutional factors that could help us explain the differences between separate ecosystems. Echoing earlier discussions in the UK, the importance of identifying appropriate metrics is recognised. The importance of a local understanding of different ecosystems has been highlighted, as indicated in the interim report:

Read the Interim Report

We will organise a special session, 'Understanding the Configurations of Place-based Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: New Conceptual and Methodological Approaches' (SS4) at the Regional Studies Association Winter Conference in London, 14–15 November 2019. This will be open to wider contributions beyond the geograpical scopes of the UK and Japan.

For more details please email Dr Fumi Kitagawa.


1 UK-Japan SSH Connections Grants - ES/S013587/1