Innovations are interrelated in a network, as well as their evolutionary trajectories (including their popularities and capabilities). It may be helpful to conceptualize networks of innovations as part of an ecological system, where innovations can be likened to species in a competitive and symbiotic resource space (Wang 2009). Figure 1 illustrates the structure of the Innovation Eco-system where networks of innovations and communities of people and organizations interact to produce and use the innovations. Figure 1 shows three innovations A, B, C, and their associated innovation communities. Lightly shaded in the center is the community for innovation A, constituted by diverse members engaging in two broad categories of activities: production and use of the innovation, represented by the two circles. Members actively interact with each other, as indicated by the arrows connecting them. The supply and demand determine the balance between production and use. It is possible for a member to engage in both types of activities. For example, universities may both develop and adopt innovations. Members can migrate from one activity category to another, from one innovation community to another, hence the dotted boundaries. As resources flow across innovation communities, production and use of innovation A may also depend on the supply and demand of its related innovations, as indicated by the 6 double-headed arrows going across communities. In this project, this theoretical framework is our guide.
An Innovation Eco-system