What are the different types of ecosystems?

Last week we wrote a general introduction to ecosystems. If you missed it, you can find it hereThis week we continue on the same topic. Now we are going to talk about the different business ecosystem types that exists and what their typical characteristics are.

In order to understand better the concept of business ecosystem, it is important to take a look at the major types of ecosystems that are widely identified in the business world. Like everything that has to do with ecosystems, there is no one right way to classify ecosystems.

Classification of ecosystems

Classification of business ecosystems can be done in different ways. On base of innovation, maturity and organization are a few examples.

A different classification will include different ecosystem actors. You need to choose which type of ecosystems fits your needs best. In this post we take a deeper look in

Business ecosystem types through innovation

Innovation is always an important factor. Especially when it comes to business. Every ecosystem  has  a  certain  way  of creating  and  capturing  the value of innovations. This creates an opportunity to group ecosystems who have a similar way of doing this.

Business ecosystem types through innovation

This classification divides ecosystems in 3 classes:

    1. science-based  ecosystems
    2. technology-based  ecosystems
    3. service-based  ecosystems

Science-based ecosystems

Science-based ecosystems create and capture value by building critical mass while they push the scientific frontier in a given field. Famous examples of these ecosystems are the semiconductor industry and the life sciences (including pharmaceuticals, medical devises and biotech).

In the semiconductor industry, value is created through research projects. Critical mass for solving research problems is built through forming partnerships with universities, scientists, consumers and vendors.

An example of critical mass can be found at IMEC. They build critical mass through its Industrial Affiliation Program through which huge research risks and costs are shared among partners.

Technology-based ecosystems

Technology-based ecosystems focus on converting ideas and adopting innovation. They create value by leveraging the power of cooperation by connecting with suppliers and complementary companies to stimulate quick innovation adoption. Example ecosystems are machines, automobiles, hi-tech and consumer electronics. 

These ecosystems are largely oriented towards connecting complementary firms and suppliers in a federator or integrator business model. Federators such as smartphone manufacturers build an ecosystem of content providers. Integrators such as manufacturers of consumer goods connect suppliers and tap into their ideas through crowd-sourcing, and create value out of technology combinations.

Service-based ecosystems

Service-based ecosystems focus on adopting solutions. Their role is to optimize assets. Examples include banking and insurance firms, consultancies, engineering companies, utilities and retail that build ecosystems for the service they provide. 

They have service operation, manufacturing and client base.

They seek to optimize these assets through innovation. Therefore, a service-based ecosystem focuses on technology suppliers and customers. The purpose for managing customers is to retain them in that service-based company’s ecosystem or community. Speed in adoption is very essential in these ecosystems.


Maturity is another way of looking at ecosystems types. In this classification you group ecosystems based on their age.

An example of this typology  is the notion of a startup ecosystem, which is defined as an ecosystem that is formed by “startups in their various stages and various types of organizations in a location (physical and/or virtual), interacting as a system to create new startup companies.” Startup ecosystems can be differentiated by region, technologies, …

With DataScouts we recently mapped one of these startup ecosystems. We dove into the Belgian tech scene to map all Belgian Tech startups. The result is this beautiful map of startups, enablers, investors and accelerators!

The #BETech Startup scene

Intrigued by ecosystems? Start your free trail today and create your own ecosystem!

How can we help you?

[contact-form-7 id="5297" title="How can we help you?"]

We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Schedule your demo

Prefer to contact a human being? Contact us at natan.debie@datascouts.eu

Schedule your demo

Prefer to contact a human being? Contact us at natan.debie@datascouts.eu

Schedule your demo

Prefer to contact a human being? Contact us at natan.debie@datascouts.eu