Exploring New Approaches to Understanding Innovation Ecosystems

Jan Youtie, Robert Ward, Philip Shapira, R. Sandra Schillo, E. Louise Earl

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A firm’s connections into its ecosystem influences its ability to innovate. Much research on innovation ecosystems has examined high technology firms and locations and has used interview, survey, or science and technology data methods. Our study focuses on a resource-based ecosystem—agri-food in a medium-sized region—and explores a novel method using media sources to identify ecosystem links. We use this method to capture the innovation ecosystem around two plant-based protein firms and a conventional food processor in Winnipeg, Canada. We extract organisational actors from the full text of business and news articles, link co-occurring actors in social networks, and use modularity partitioning to detect communities in these networks. Our results show that the focal agri-food firms vary in their ecosystem associations, with little duplication in the actor organisations across the different firms’ networks. The plant-based protein firm networks had a greater innovation orientation than was noticeable in the established food producer’s network, particularly with industry and civic association intermediaries, government, and other agricultural companies. Insights from using the method and implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology Analysis & Strategic Management
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2021


  • Canada
  • Innovation ecosystem
  • agri-food


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