Entrepreneurial-University Ecosystems: Framework

Following our literature review and technical note on entrepreneurial-university ecosystems, Research England commissioned SQW to undertake a follow-on exercise to develop an initial framework for identifying potential ecosystem ‘city pairs’, focusing on the UK and USA. The framework was intended to be a pragmatic and quick-to-implement tool for identifying potential city pairs that could have comparable ecosystems. City pairs could then be examined through more detailed comparative analysis to check matches and generate learning.

Following an iterative process in partnership with the study’s steering group, SQW developed a small portfolio of indicators, comprising:

  • Student numbers
  • Start-ups/spin-out activity
  • IP income
  • University R&D expenditure
  • Number and value of seed stage investments
  • Resident population estimates
  • Number of firms in the local economy
  • Local GDP/GVA
  • Sector structure

Available data on the shortlisted indicators was gathered for a selection of UK and USA cities, and an initial set of possible city matches were identified. This included, for example, London with San Francisco, Oxford with Seattle, Edinburgh with Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (the ‘Research Triangle’) and Manchester with Washington.

As noted in a subsequent blog developed by Research England, a key finding from the study was the importance of context. For example, the differences in scale between the UK and USA are important and should inform possible ecosystem pairings and learning.