When it comes to innovation, there’s a lot of discussion around how we all can think about replicating and reproducing it en mass. What’s the algorithm for the next Facebook, Google, Apple, or Alibaba? A lot of people think they have a lot of different answers to this question. 


The real answer? There isn’t one. 

Innovation isn’t some templated / standardized product to be put on an assembly line and distributed across the world. Innovation is a fleeting notion and concept that comes from a person in search of an answer to a problem. This is not standardized and sure as well can’t be put into a template. 


However, that isn’t to say you can’t support it. It’s here where you see ecosystems come into play. 

So, what is an

“innovation ecosystem”?


An innovation ecosystem is a geographic area ranging from as large as a city or province to as small as a New York City block. Within this area, there’s a collection of capital that can be identified into two categories:


Human Capital: This includes knowledge, skills, tech, algorithms, people, ambition, networks, and the desire for raw creativity & pure innovation. 


Structural Capital: This includes corporates & MNCs, funds, governments, universities, programs, & infrastructure. 

Why Is This Important?


The idea here is that when these people, communities, and networks all come together, you have innovation. The ecosystem provides access to information, resources, and opportunities for startups to grow and scale. 


Meanwhile, this flow (of information, resources, and opportunity) creates more investment opportunities for the right funds, corporates, or governments to connect with the right ideas for their businesses and portfolios.


The growth of these ecosystems is then exponential with each startup or entrepreneur. When they successfully utilize the resources to scale, they create additional opportunities and generate more capital for upcoming entrepreneurs and institutions. 

Innovation Ecosystems in China


Innovation ecosystems exist around the world, each serving its own purpose and facilitating growth within its own niche. As the human and structural capital make up the ecosystem, it’s very much defined by what makes up those categories themselves.


Take Hangzhou for example. A city that is made up of internet and tech giants like Alibaba, NetEase, NOKIA, GeTui, Enjoyor, and Geely. It won’t come as a surprise to any of us thatHangzhou’s ecosystem is specialized in AI, Big Data, IoT, & 5G. 


As a result, this specialization creates increased and targeted opportunity from structural capital (governments & funds) to human capital (startups & innovators) in this particular industry or vertical.

Where nihub Comes in


The key to success in ANY innovation ecosystem is in the flow of the informational or financial resources it offers. If startups, innovators, and the human capital of an ecosystem are disconnected from the structural capital or communication is limited, the ecosystem (which relies on consistent growth) stalemates and eventually plummets.


nihub Innovation Center positions itself in the center of any and every ecosystem it enters into to increase the flow of resources, information, and capital (either human or structural).


To learn more about the specifics of China’s innovation ecosystems make sure to follow nihub by scanning the QR below and stay tuned next week for our debut piece in a new series Understanding Ecosystems that will be a deep dive into specific innovation hubs throughout China. 

A Glimpse Into China’s

Innovation Policy