Activating Local Innovation Ecosystem (How to support start-ups)
The activation of a local innovation ecosystem can be hampered by a variety of barriers. Testing innovations in a real environment may be considered as a technological challenge while getting local organisations to support start-ups and dealing simultaneously with a lack of an entrepreneurial spirit within the university staff pose social difficulties to the intentions.
Moreover, to find financing for local innovators and to develop sustainable business models are also not self-starters. There are always risks of global competition and start-ups moving from smaller to larger cities where they will find more opportunities. In regulatory and juridical regards, the lack of national/regional programmes for incubators as well as the integration of innovation into existing administration can be problematic. The largest number of challenges, however, need to be faced by the governance.
The appropriate serving for local start-ups as well as their expanding and improvement are among them. Overall, it is difficult to get start-ups that are initiated by universities and to select and to prioritise preferable solutions based on criteria sets.
All in all, it is challenging to set-up a good interface between a city and its start-ups. Beyond doubt, more challenges can be explained by the lack of the following aspects: office spaces, the communication between research institutes and businesses, and the completeness of available solutions on the market (the lack of the marketplace with quality control and a predefined template). Finally, there is also a gap (the lack of a living lab concept in the city) between the proof of a concept at a prototype situation and the scale-up to rollout the market.
Offering public space (e.g. real neighbourhoods) to start-ups where they can trial and error solutions and to introduce city-led consultancy and formats such as SCCI at a national/city level count as policy recommendations. The circumstance that the local industry is usually highly interested in innovation and will therefore support start-ups can in turn be considered as an incentive for users.
The following suggestions have already proved their worth: Persons in charge should create clusters and oriented accelerators, and should bring together incubator, accelerator and venture building in a single location. Here, people should not run for general incubators but should rather build on their existing strengths instead of copying others.
Moreover, risk containment, evaluation, and monitoring criteria as how to act in case of failure should be considered. It can also be beneficial to set-up a start-up centre at universities as well as to set-up an institutional network (such as Vienna Business Agency). One should also keep in mind to pick one theme and think about the individual specialization instead of getting lost in a multitude of ideas. People in charge should also provide guidance for start-ups to define the right next steps.
All in all, it is advisable to embrace a strong collaboration between local universities, companies, and the public administration. Concluding, to replicate the iCity tender event as organised by Triangulum is highly recommended.
Plan for Implementation
The next steps should include the implementation of a city-led consultancy for start-ups (creating an entrepreneurial centre and offering space to start-ups where they can trial end error solutions) as in Munich.
Again, the creation of an Innovation Lab within universities and the connection of an accelerator and venture builder to other organisations can only be recommended. The same applies for finding models for upscaling, investing in start-ups centres and, last but not least, for keeping young companies within the area instead of losing them to bigger cities.