The wide diversity of examples encompassing different kinds of “ecosystems” (at different levels of development) and different levels (from small scale “bottom-up” local partnerships, to “top-down” system-level changes within a region’s education system, as well as macro-regional cooperation between countries) made it difficult to identify commonly recognised success factors. Certain patterns however, were discerned:
- Local and regional identity: locality/region have to have a strong sense of identity, and perhaps even the wish to show that it is self-sufficient and not dependent on “the capital” (examples: Swansea, Huddersfield, Catalonia, Wuppertal; …)
- Shared vision - recognising win-win benefits and sharing a commitment to change/progress: ecosystem means linking together institutions that may not have had much formal contact before (e.g. schools, businesses, universities, local authorities). In order to do so there must be a strong element of a shared vision (e.g. recognising the importance of change and improvement, recognizing the importance of the goal of entrepreneurship both to the community as a whole and to each participating institution).
- Social cohesion: there must be a strong element of trust in order to connect the different players in the ecosystem.
- Organic process / modest goals: the ecosystem does not need to have overly ambitious goals to begin with. Many of the ecosystems “started small” as bottom-up initiatives, (linking one institution with one business) and developed into something bigger.