The research aims at identifying the links between the geographical patterns of knowledge creation, and the innovation and economic performances of entrepreneurial ecosystems. For this purpose, we map the knowledge creation characteristics of different entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe across different industries, identify key actors (universities, start-ups, incumbent firms, financial intermediaries), and analyse their behaviour. We also detect potential sources of synergies between these actors, the boundary conditions relating to actors’ specific characteristics under which these synergies materialize, and measure their performance effects. The results of this research have been published in prominent journals in entrepreneurship and economic geography, and have been used as input by policy makers at local, national and European Union level. At present, this research is mainly carried out within three ongoing projects: Knowmak, funded by the European Union under the H2020 program, the “Ecosystem of Italian Innovative Start-ups” project promoted by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) and the “Booklet Startup” project, funded by Assolombarda.

  • Knowmak (Knowledge in the making in the European society) develops a web‐based tool, which provides interactive visualisations and indicators on knowledge co-creation patterns in the European Research Area. It is structured around three integrative elements: 1) research topics, aimed at developing ontologies around Societal Grand Challenges and Key Enabling Technologies, 2) actors, which focuses on the involvement of societal actors in knowledge co-creation, 3) geographical spaces, which focuses on multiple level metropolitan, regional, national and European spaces and their interconnectedness.
  • The “Ecosystem of Italian Innovative Start-ups” project, building on established collaborations with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), investigates demography and dynamics of Italian innovative start-ups, by paying specific attention to the characteristics of entrepreneurs, the micro-determinants of financing, hiring strategies and innovation patterns, start-up growth and internationalization performances. Moreover, formal and informal institutions that magnify or depress these drivers are examined at local level.
  • “Booklet Startup” ( maps and monitors the Lombardy region start-up activity. Precisely, in collaboration with Assolombarda, the project assesses the birth, survival, and growth of start-ups belonging to the knowledge-intensive sectors of manufacturing, services and art, culture and creative industries, comparing Lombard start-up activity with that of other similar European regions (i.e. the Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Cataluña and Rhône-Alpes regions).

Key research questions:

What are the distinctive elements of entrepreneurial ecosystems? How do they vary across different industries and locations?

What factors drive the performance of entrepreneurial ecosystems? How can synergies between different actors be created? What is the role (if any) of public support schemes?

Outputs and Impact (e.g. main publications or other impact results):

  • Bonaccorsi, A., Colombo, M.G., Guerini, M., Rossi-Lamastra, C. (2013). University specialization and new firm creation across industries. Small Business Economics, 41(4), pp. 837-863.
  • Bonaccorsi, A., Colombo, M.G., Guerini, M., Rossi-Lamastra, C. (2014). The impact of local and external university knowledge on the creation of knowledge-intensive firms: Evidence from the Italian case. Small Business Economics, 43(2), pp. 261-287.
  • Ghio, N., Guerini, M., Lehmann, E.E., Rossi-Lamastra, C. (2015). The emergence of the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship. Small Business Economics, 44(1), pp. 1-18.
  • Booklet Startup n° 01/2016, n° 02/2017, Assolombarda Confindustria Milano Monza e Brianza and Politecnico di Milano, 2016/2017.

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