What are the benefits of incubators, funders and startups getting together to work 'on' the innovation ecosystem?
Working 'in' your business is different from working 'on' the business itself, and the same is true for those whose "business" is helping our most innovative entrepreneurs thrive. Getting together to work ‘on’ the ecosystem to benefit the service providers and innovators is the driver behind Spacecubed’s Innovative Society initiative, supported by Lotterywest. Meshpoints, also referred to as the Constellation, was launched under this project and consists of a group of Partner organisations who are committed to building a more vibrant, thriving and resilient innovation ecosystem.
This month, nearly 30 Partners came together to work ‘on the ecosystem. This included social impact market-makers, charitable service providers, philanthropic funders and inter-generational co-living providers. The meeting included updates on the 'Innovative Society Index', another part of the Innovative Society Initiative, focusing on measuring the maturing of the innovation ecosystem, as well as news on upcoming projects including successful applicants from the first round of the Fund, upcoming events and programs, and discussion about how to be ethical, inclusive and effective in our decisions.
This level of voluntary collaboration across such diverse organisations is rare globally, something we can be proud of, and brings great potential benefits to innovators in WA, including:
Transparency - innovators can more easily see 'who's who', what services they provide and if they are a fit for their needs
Quality - programs and services will be more targeted and better-resourced thanks to leveraged funding and tighter collaboration across providers.
Efficiency - each provider can more rapidly make referrals to others through development of deeper relationships and shared objectives.
The benefits for the Partners in Meshpoints were discussed on the day, and some of that value generated immediately through the conversations and collaborations, with examples outlined below.
Visibility of what's happening
Historically a funder, service provider or potential partner would only find out about a new initiative - say new events relevant to regional innovators, or a new service to help SMEs with decarbonisation - when it was open for applicants. Now, through Meshpoints, there is greater visibility of projects and support for what's in-development. This increases early opportunities for collaboration.
Stability in the community
The innovation ecosystem is notoriously ephemeral. Programs, coworking spaces, events or funding programs may pop-up and a year later may disappear. Meshpoints creates a new level of governance that builds trust amongst the ecosystem, and brings together funders and innovators to help them succeed.
Support for innovation services
In the past, an incubator or service provider wanting to innovate its offering would do so on their own, without funding, and face a 'valley of death'. An examples is on new content focused on Environmental, Social, and Governance, and impact for participating ventures, grants for incubator graduates or making connections to other incubators globally to develop best practice. Now, through Meshpoints those efforts are supported by a facilitator and easy access to collaborators to share the load.