GRID FEATURE

Nurturing Business Ecosystems Creates Value for All

The term “business ecosystem” can be heard a lot these days. But what do these words really mean? Why are business ecosystems becoming increasingly important? American business strategist James F. Moore is credited with coining the term in the mid-1990s to describe a new way of understanding the underlying forces that drive success in the increasingly complex and interconnected world of global business.

In his seminal book, The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business Ecosystems, Moore defined a business ecosystem as: “[…] an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world. The economic community produces goods and services of value to customers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organisms also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders.”

 

Not all ecosystems are the same

As in nature, not all business ecosystems are the same, and there is no guarantee of survival.

Successful examples of business ecosystems tend to have one lead “orchestrator” that drives the ecosystem, but this not always the case. The definition of “orchestrator” can also be different, depending on the specifics of the ecosystem and its participants. One general truth is that each business ecosystem has its unique traits and characteristics—the result of its different and diverse members and goals.

Tech giants like Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft are among the well-known companies that create and lead business ecosystems of suppliers, customers and complimentary third-party service providers, but these are not the only examples of a business ecosystem at work.

The world’s famous tech hubs—Silicon Valley, New York City, London, Singapore, Tokyo, to name but a few—are also correctly described as business ecosystems, though here they are not necessarily organised around one main orchestrator. Rather they are formed by a diverse mix of factors, with innovation often coming from highly competitive start-ups usually financed by private equity funds seeking short-term returns. The world’s biggest tech hubs also tend to be synonymous with the world’s top-ranked cities and are among the most expensive places on the planet to live and do business.

Technology parks offer another model for a successful business ecosystem to thrive by bringing the expertise and resources of like-minded companies and businesses together with universities and local municipalities in one physical place built specifically around the idea of collaborative work and long-term value creation for all members.

Technology parks, with their campus environment, are natural homes for innovation to flourish. State-of-the-art custom-built R&D labs combined with community space and natural landscaping create a relaxed, informal environment that supports collaboration. The aim is to create a community that stimulates innovation, idea generation, and problem solving and to bring new ideas successfully to the market. An added benefit is that the synergies that drive the success of technology parks also drive long-term sustainable growth for the communities where they are located.

Photo: High Tech Campus Eindhoven

High Tech Campus Eindhoven

An excellent example of a technology park business ecosystem is High Tech Campus Eindhoven (“HTC Eindhoven”) in the Netherlands.

Formerly the R&D centre for electronics major Philips, HTC Eindhoven is today one of the world’s leading R&D innovation hubs, with a collaborative business ecosystem involving around 300 high-tech companies and 12,500 international researchers, developers and businesspeople—earning it the moniker “the smartest square kilometre in Europe”.1

HTC Eindhoven operates on an open-innovation philosophy to generate collaborative ideas from its business ecosystem. Each company at the campus shares a common goal: to develop new technologies that help solve social challenges and to bring these solutions successfully to market.

1 https://www.politico.eu/article/scale-up-city-eindhoven-grows-alongside-big-tech/

The mix of high-tech and market focus has attracted a diverse network of companies to HTC Eindhoven—from major multinationals such as chipmakers ASML and Intel to a diverse mix of SMEs and start-ups in the tech sector. The constant growth of the campus is making a significant impact on the socio-economic growth of the city of Eindhoven and the surrounding area, with over 70,000 new jobs expected to arrive over the next decade.

Driving innovation at HTC Eindhoven are various tech-specific initiatives and hubs designed to stimulate multidisciplinary collaboration between organisations. These include an AI Innovation Centre, which aims to grow a new regional AI ecosystem and provide campus members access to AI events, workshops, training and experts to share insights. The campus is also home to the 5G Hub, a joint initiative of HTC Eindhoven, the Brainport Development, Ericsson and VodaphoneZiggo set up to explore new technologies, from AI to blockchain to photonics.

CLIENT SPEAK John Bell CEO of HighTechXL

High Tech Eindhoven Campus

What does your business do?

We’re a deep tech venture builder. We create 10 to 15 deep tech start-ups every year that all focus on solving a big societal challenge. We have one company that is focused on innovations in carbon capture, one in hydrogen energy, and another that uses technology to influence human stress levels.

What makes High Tech Campus Eindhoven special?

One reason is that it goes far beyond real estate. It brings together a group of people with similar interests and helps them collaborate. People here want to feel responsible for enabling and stimulating connections. The campus facilitates so many opportunities to meet, talk, and think together. The mentality isn’t ever ‘what can I get out of this?’ There is an understanding that relationships may lead to something business wise, or they may not. First and foremost, it’s about being together and sharing knowledge.

read complete interview

CTP’s vision for ecosystems

The essence of CTP’s business has always been about bringing people together to get business done. With its focus on long-term sustainable growth and community engagement at multiple levels, CTP’s unique business model as owner, developer and operator is ideally suited to support the growth of vibrant business ecosystems. The company’s Parkmaker credo centres around building space for businesses and local communities to thrive.

Following years of consistent CTP investments and engagement, cities like Brno and Ostrava in the Czech Republic are today home to several CTParks that have grown to become high-tech business ecosystems in collaboration with local universities and municipalities. The company has accelerated these efforts in recent years with innovations like its Clubhaus community centre, which it continues to introduce at select locations throughout the CTPark Network to help build and nurture an atmosphere of informal, collaborative exchange.

Building on this success, and inspired by projects like HTC Eindhoven, CTP aims to take technology park development to the next level by developing world-class high-tech hubs, particularly in business-smart CEE, where trends like nearshoring are creating more demand for space from high-tech business than ever before. The pool of expertise in CEE is second-to-none, and the fundamental strengths of the region’s talent, strategic location, and cost-effectiveness make it ideal for the growth high-tech hubs.

CTP’s value proposition makes the difference. The company’s full-service property development platform, its track record of working successfully with all stakeholders—including local technological universities, city administrations and diverse companies in the technology space—and its on-the-ground understanding of local markets and how they connect with global trends combine to create the ideal conditions for world-class 21st century business ecosystems to thrive.

Q&A Cees Admiraal Innovation Director
CTP
With his successful background as Business Developer at High Tech Campus Eindhoven for nearly 20 years, Cees Admiraal, Innovation Director at CTP, is helping to lead the company’s efforts to develop 21st century business ecosystems. GRID sat down to talk with him to learn more about CTP’s activities and its vision for the future.
TALKING INNOVATION & COMMUNITY WITH CEES

How is CTP forging links between clients and local stakeholders such as universities to facilitate the growth of business ecosystems at CTP Parks?

Many of our CTParks are close to cities with leading science, technology and engineering universities, and we are actively fostering relationships with them to benefit our client communities. At CTPark Brno, where we have many high-tech tenants, located in Brno, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city and an important biomedical, engineering and information technology hub, we are finding ways to help Park tenants such as Honeywell ABB and Thermo Fisher Scientific, grow their links with the city’s superb scientific and technical education institutions to support their recruitment and research. This will see CTP creating ongoing platforms for student internships, guest lectures, academic competitions and careers fairs to bring our tenants and the universities closer together.

How are you creating communities at CTParks that encourage tenants to meet and collaborate?

Creating business ecosystems at our Parks, means going far beCreating business ecosystems at our Parks, means going far beyond providing business space. Clubhaus is a new concept we are bringing to many of our Parks, which comprises a mix of leisure offerings for park employees including restaurants, cafes, spaces for sports and events. These are all amenities that drive social interaction and foster collaboration. We are also developing lively event programmes both real world and virtual, from sports tournaments to talks, conferences and webinars on topics that will bring likeminded ark employees together.

One location where Clubhaus is being introduced is at CTPark Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Ostrava’s economy has a rich history of expertise in the mechanical and engineering sectors, stemming from a history of coal mining and heavy industry. However, in recent years the Ostrava region has become a major centre for the automotive industry and IT sectors largely thanks to its skilled workforce. This makes it an exciting place for building a business ecosystem.

Some leading business campuses are selective about the types of companies that can join. Will CTP start being selective about which companies can take space at its Parks?

No, CTP’s communities are not selective, and all types of businesses are welcome. At many of our Parks clients are already from similar business sectors, and they tend to be located in cities with strong local industries and universities. We believe this will help us create ecosystems that benefit our clients and help drive economic growth without being selective about who our tenants are.

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