As a newbie to the Tech community, one of the first tasks you’re faced with is having a grasp of the many unique terminologies frequently used within the community.
One of the terms that you will regularly come across is “the Ecosystem”, you may frequently hear statements such as;
“Strengthening the ecosystem”,
“A vibrant ecosystem ”
“The local ecosystem” amongst others
A newbie may begin to wonder how terms commonly used in Biology have found their place within the Tech community, at least that’s what crossed my mind when I first heard this term at a Tech event.
However this term has a different meaning within Tech circles and refers to a system of interconnected actors and factors that determine the feasibility and vibrancy of Tech Entrepreneurship in a society.
As a relatively new member of the Tech community myself, I will carry out an analysis of this term in simple and non-technical language for the benefit of curious minds and the Tech Newbies within the community.
Although there are many versions and definitions of the Tech Ecosystem, for this analysis, I will be using the Tech entrepreneurship Ecosystem Framework contained in the CC & C report prepared for Google on Tech Entrepreneurship in Nigeria as my reference material.
What is the Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem?
Going back to the Biological conception of an ecosystem, an ecosystem refers to an interactive system composed of living organisms and their environments in which each component relies on the other in order for the system to be sustained.
The Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem employs a similar construct in which different components and factors interact for the system to be sustainable. In its simplest definition, it refers to all social and economic factors affecting the viability of Tech entrepreneurship.
The CC & C report brings this to life with its conceptualization of the Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Framework. This Framework portrays the ecosystem as a system of inputs and outputs, these inputs consist of 7 components necessary to cultivate a vibrant tech entrepreneurship ecosystem and outputs which are represented as the positive outcomes of a vibrant Tech entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The Inputs necessary for a vibrant Tech Entrepreneurship ecosystem according to this model include; Financial Capital, Skilled talent, Networks, Culture, Regulations, ICT infrastructure & Market Potential.
The outputs according to this system include Economic Contribution & Innovation Creation.
The strength of each of these components is used as a yardstick to determine the vibrancy of Tech Ecosystems in different climes.
As part of this article, I will be carrying out a brief analysis on each of these components to give a clearer picture of the functioning of the Tech Ecosystem.
INPUTS OF THE TECH ECOSYSTEM
For a Tech Ecosystem to be vibrant, a combination of the following factors must come into play to ensure its growth and sustainability.
FINANCIAL CAPITAL: For a Tech Startup to be successful, it needs to have access to timely and adequate funding. This funding will ensure that the Startup has the capability to sustain its operations and expand when necessary.
For this to be effective funding has to be readily available and accessible, sources for funding include; Grants, Crowdfunding, Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Public funding among other financial actors.
SKILLED TALENT: For the Tech Ecosystem to thrive, Tech talents such as Programmers, Content creators, Developers amongst others needed. The presence of such talents ensures that the Tech ecosystem remains competitive and innovative and has an adequate amount of skilled talents within its workforce to sustain it. However, factors such as the standard of education in a society and the availability of opportunities and funding for tech education determines the amount of skilled talent within the ecosystem.
NETWORKS: For Tech Startups to thrive,they need access to opportunities for growth, visibility, investments, infrastructure, training among others, this is where the need for vibrant Networks arises.
Such Networking comes in form of Innovation Hubs, Networking Events, Demo Days, etc. These platforms give Tech Startups opportunities for growth and advancement and this benefits the Tech Ecosystem as a whole by scaling up the capabilities of Tech start-ups within the ecosystem.
Some notable Innovation Hubs in Nigeria include, CC Hub, Ken-Saro Wiwa Hub, etc.
CULTURE: Culture as regards the Tech ecosystem refers to the prevailing attitudes of the populace towards Tech and entrepreneurship. This determines the rate at which individuals in a particular society go into entrepreneurial ventures.
This could be positively influenced by media coverage on Tech Entrepreneurship, covering success stories and events. Such coverage improves public support and perception of Tech Entrepreneurship and helps to boost the Tech ecosystem.
REGULATIONS: Regulatory frameworks play a big part in determining the sustainability of a Tech Ecosystem. The Tax policies, Trade policies and Intellectual property laws in different climes determine the ease of doing business for Tech Startups and in turn determines the vibrancy of the Tech Ecosystem.
Favourable regulations make for a favourable climate for a thriving Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.
ICT INFRASTRUCTURE: An important component that determines the viability of a Tech Startup is its access to reliable and accessible internet connectivity. Slow or expensive internet greatly reduces productivity as it increases running costs and limits the capabilities of Tech Startups.
Therefore for a Tech ecosystem to be vibrant there needs to be access to affordable and reliable ICT infrastructure as this is a catalyst for growth and innovation.
MARKET POTENTIAL: A key determinant to any entrepreneurial endeavour is the viability of the market. Tech products are unique due to the fact that most times a certain level of digital literacy is required for them to be fully utilized.
In determining the market potential for a tech Startup factors such as prevailing attitudes toward Technology, Digital literacy, Buying power and the population have to be considered.
OUTPUTS OF THE TECH ECOSYSTEM
A vibrant Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem has certain benefits. According to the CC & C model, these are termed outputs. These include Economic Contribution and Innovation Creation.
Economic contribution refers to the economic benefits a vibrant Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem could bring a local economy. These include, Economic diversification, more employment opportunities, an increase in GDP, among others.
In the aspect of Innovation Creation, outputs from a vibrant Tech Ecosystem can contribute immensely to the technological advancement of societies.
This is evident in developed countries where Tech Solutions find their place in Governance, Defence, Health and almost every sphere of human endeavour.
This article was aimed at describing the Tech Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in simple terms with Tech Newbies at heart.
Perhaps if you come across the term “Ecosystem” in tech circles, or you need to explain the term to a new convert to the African tech revolution, this article will be there for you, one click away.