Creating an open innovation powered digital ecosystem for a geographic region.


The need for a digital ecosystem

The rise of open data and Smart Cities technology has provided a valuable opportunity for local authorities dealing with significant budget cuts. Harnessing digital technology is key to improving services and efficiency.

The requirement to innovate has never been stronger, digital innovation is at the forefront of driving change in the world today due to its development, adoption and phenomenal and exponential growth rate. For local authorities it can be used to create a digital ecosystem which will facilitate new local commerce and public service processes and solutions driven by digital technology.

Ongoing digital innovation is also the best way to establish sustainable growth:

“Organisations who are focussed on digital innovation have increased their productivity and boosted profit margins by up to triple the average rate and are increasing their digital lead and advantage with every passing year.” (McKinsey)

 There are many benefits to investing in digital technology not least of which is that it provides excellent ROI and savings. A digital ecosystem can help increase the money flowing into an area both through encouraging research funding and through stimulating commerce, entrepreneurship and local investment.

Digital technology can revolutionise public services and drive behaviour change at scale, improving “quality of life” indicators for citizens across a region. And finally it will help to cement the image of a region as a hub for skills development and a leading centre of excellence in digital economy best practice.


What does a digital ecosystem require?

In order to successfully create a digital ecosystem there are a number of resources which need to be put in place and supported within the local area.


Firstly and most importantly in order for digital technology to be usable and effective it requires certain infrastructure such as broadband connectivity, freely and easily available open data and a growing store of sensor data.

Skills and knowledge

It is key that an appropriately skilled workforce is available to design and implement digital technology products including software engineers, data analysts and user experience designers. On top of this an active and supported research community both within academia and commercial organisations encourages valuable innovation.

Programme Support

Startups and SMEs are at the centre of building an innovative digital ecosystem, therefore measures need to be put in place to support this community. This communicating the digital ambitions of the region to relevant networks and supporting engaged businesses to grow. In support of this a fresh approach to public procurement is needed which engages in pre-commercial trials to try new ways of delivering public services and creating quantified results for evaluation.


Let’s get started

The first step to building a digital ecosystem is creating a cross functional working team to leverage the assets of the key players in the region and existing programmes.  By creating a network of stakeholders who work together you can ensure there is an overall network of resource and activity, covering all the key components of a digital economy. Let’s drive sustainable digital innovation forward from within the system.