Let’s talk about (business) ecosystems!

You have probably already heard about the word Ecosystems. Although it’s mostly used in the context of nature, you can find them everywhere. From business ecosystems to creative ones, from a entrepreneurial tech ecosystem, over urban smart city ecosystems to the gigantic open innovation ecosystem.

But what exactly is an ecosystem? What are the differences and more important what are the similarities between them? And how can your company benefit from being part and contributing to an ecosystem and how can you tap into the resources made available in a vibrant ecosystem? In this and other posts we’ll try to explain you everything you need to know.

Business ecosystems: a definition

The expression is derived from nature, where an ecosystem refers to various species thrive by  relating  in  a  dynamic  and  self-adjusting manner. With businesses it is basically the same thing.

Business  ecosystems  bring  together mutually supportive  firms grouped  around  a particular  business, technology or shared ambition to  make  differentiated  offerings  and capture value they could not attain alone.

Generally, a business ecosystem is defined as a dynamic and co-evolving community of diverse participants who create and use new value via both cooperation and competition.

These networks are made up of customers,  market  intermediaries,  companies selling complementary products, suppliers and of course the company itself. Similar concepts are clusters, federations, associations and value networks.

Business ecosystems

Why does it matter?

The capacity of an ecosystem to create and serve markets is beyond that of any one firm or any single  traditional  industry.  Its  diversity  and  collective  capability  to  jointly  learn,  adapt  and innovate   are   important   determinants of   its   long-term   success.   Greatly   enhanced   through interaction  across  specialized  resources  and  capabilities,  ecosystems  develop  and  co-create  new solutions to societal challenges and human needs and desires.

Ecosystems thrive on competition, which is highly motivational and is a perfect conductor for innovation. On the other hand, are actors also incentivized by shared values, goals and interests. The need to meet customer demands faster and better provide a perfect base for collaboration and mutual  investments  in  the longer-term from which everyone gain benefit.

This combination of these two stimulating factors, also known as coopetition, will ultimately lead to more and faster innovations.

Other benefits  of  business  ecosystems  or  clusters include  a  better  access  to employees  and  suppliers,  specialized  information  and  institutions  and  public  goods.

How can Datascouts help?

When you see these benefits, you want to better understand the ecosystem you are part of and the value network of your company. 

That’s where we can help you. Datascouts provides a platform in which you can create a business ecosystem map, monitor you’re value network and be aware of what happens in your ecosystem, the trends in your sector and the achievements of peers.

The DataScouts platform combines public data, own private data and extra content which is relevant to the specific use case. Without any problem you can visualize tons of information in no time.

Datascouts helps you to visualize data

Go to our website and create your own ecosystem today!

Our have a look at one of our our existing public ecosystems.


DataScouts brings Ecosystem Intelligence to a next level

We are proud to present the next generation of the DataScouts application! 

Besides a completely new look and feel, we have incorporated as much as possible the valuable feedback we received from our end users. DataScouts has not just changed in terms of look & feel, but the new DataScouts also offers a wide range of new capabilities to build ecosystem intelligence. DataScouts allows to visualize, explore and monitor a portfolio of companies, a creative ecosystem, an industry cluster or the competitive landscape of a corporate.

New Layout

You will immediately notice the new layout of the application. DataScouts offers richer company profiles and a new way of exploring a directory of companies. The top left menu allows to easily switch between different interactive views of the ecosystem. All filters incl. the legend, keywords and tags are grouped on the left. The top navigation provides direct access to all companies profiles.


The powerful search capabilities allow to set multiple selection criteria and to visualize a portfolio of actors by using the interactive filters. Moreover, it is possible to combine the map or network view with the gallery or list view, allowing for a more complete ecosystem overview.

Actor Profile

The actor’s full profile groups all available information about a member of the ecosystem and automatically places the most relevant information on top of the page. The labels on top of the profile indicate whether the profile’s data is publicly available and/or it is claimed by the owner of the profile. Editing an ecosystem profile now happens all in one go.

Ecosystem Configuration

With the new version of DataScouts, admins gain flexibility and autonomy in setting up the configuration of the public ecosystem views. Admins will be able to see and edit the company profiles of all the actors in their ecosystem and play around with multiple parameters and views, while visitor will only see the information, company profiles and views an admin decides to publish.

Ecosystem Relationships

As relationships are key in extracting ecosystem intelligence from your data, we have included the capability to add persons as actors and link products to companies. Persons include advisors, entrepreneurs, and key opinion leaders, which can be linked to organizations, allowing to visualize the interrelationships between the persons and organizations within your ecosystem. Moreover, the capability to distinguish a company from their projects and products, makes the concrete relationships in your ecosystem between persons, companies, and products clearer, allowing to extract more ecosystem intelligence!

We encourage you to start using DataScouts and discover its features. Create your own ecosystem and start exploring the companies that matter to your business. If you can’t wait, you can visit one of our public ecosystems:


Interactive visualization of the #BeTech start-up scene


How new ideas emerge and get validated within cooperative and creative networks

When it comes to innovation and creativity, we often assume that there are a small number of super smart people who always think of great new ideas. Through my daily involvement with entrepreneurs, researchers, incubators and accelerators, it has become clear to me that it are not the smartest and most driven people who bring their ideas successfully to market, but those who are most skilled in capturing ideas (from others), validating and improving these ideas and in working with people who are on the same wavelength.

The people who are most creative and have a feel for trends and new technologies are actually continuously scouting. They meet new people everywhere and catch new ideas at every moment in time. They are always open to listen to people with different views and new insights. They have the ability to filter out the best ideas and to validate those ideas in their next talks with other people, with again their own perspectives and experiences. The ideas that provoke interest from different people, are truly valuable. They translate these ideas in a new story that will change the world. The most productive people are continually working to create a new story. From their continuous exploration, they’re adding elements to their story, until they decide that time has come to take action and validate their idea in reality!

Social interactions are crucial in gathering information and in decision making. By combining input from various people we reach a judgment that is based on a group’s wisdom, collective intelligence. We collect the best ideas and make better decisions by learning from successes and mistakes of others!

The most productive people are therefore constantly in contact with others to gather and validate new ideas by engaging partners in exploratory conversations, resulting in even more and better ideas. A good mix of social learning and personal information guides them in their exploration.

There are a couple of important aspects to keep in mind when collecting and testing ideas within a network:

  • Combining experiences of others with individual information leads to better decisions.
  • The size and the diversity of the network determine the quality of the ideas that emerge.
  • IF everyone runs in the same direction, be aware of group think (or herd behaviour), a major risk of social learning.
  • Study the opinion of loners! When people behave independently, they are likely to have other information to which they attach great importance and they resist against social influences.

As Coordinator of CreatiFI and Entrepreneur in Residence at iMinds, I have the privilege to experience how many new ideas emerge, mature and are brought to market. I enjoy the close collaboration with creative and innovation hubs across Europe, bringing great people and ideas together and enabling them to become reality.


Urban Innovation – Entrepreneurship and New Paths of Cooperations

Digital transition yields many benefits for entrepreneurs, opening new business opportunities and new solutions for current problems as well. Connecting data to boost efficiency is one of those opportunities.

At [Y] Factor 2016, an inspiring event organised by the European Committee of the Regions, young entrepreneurs, local authorities and successful start-uppers engaged in an interactive discussion, on two key issues: “New Paths of Cooperation” and “How Big Data Drives Innovation”. In a co-creative format, the speakers and the audience explored the added value that start-ups bring to local and regional communities, what barriers young entrepreneurs face and how they can be avoided.

Markku Markkula, the President of the European Committee of Regions, opened the conference stating that Europe’s path to growth is paved with tablets and smart phones! A new generation of entrepreneurs and creative individuals is emerging in our cities and play a transformative role. In order to make cities more self sufficient, resilient and intelligent to face future challenges we must open the opportunity for smart citizens to connect through technology and build a new urban environment. Cities with a mindset of open innovation and entrepreneurial experimentation provide great opportunities for smart citizens who ask for change and take action.

Smart creatives, entrepreneurs, developers team up, designing and creating new products and services, while enriching and revitalising existing economic activity in the city. The rather informal innovative communities in cities foster open collaboration and build vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. Grass root, as well as more established and institutionalised initiatives, have emerged with an enormous inspiring creative power. The setting has never been better for young companies to emerge!

The young entrepreneurs debated intensively regarding which elements can ensure the success of an entrepreneur and concluded that the key elements one needs to succeed are: focus, energy, resilience, patience and being in the right place at the right moment. Daugilas Kakaras, Head of Sales at mCity, Lorenzo Pregliasco, Director and Co-Founder of YouTrend and Quorum, and Neale Richmond, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Concil, shared the same point of view: that an entrepreneur doesn’t see problems, but opportunities to bring solutions and innovate, and these opportunities are all around us ready to be explored. Although the path of entrepreneurship is not the easiest one, the satisfaction of building something new and being part of creating the future gives you the resilience to surpass all the obstacles you might find on your way. Once you have taken that path, it is hard to turn your back and walk away. Be prepare to fail, it is part of the game.

Related article: 10 Traits All Successful Entrepreneurs Share

While the conversation developed, the teams explored different aspects that can define the vibrancy of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and discussed whether the reallocation of start-ups looking for entrepreneurial density in order to grow will cause a brain drain effect. During the lively debate regarding the role of schools and universities in providing the handles for successful entrepreneurship the participants agreed that changes must be done in order for the education system to support the practical learning of all future entrepreneurs. New business schools remain the best accelerators as they provide with tremendous educational value with an environment of mentorship which can easily bridge aspiring entrepreneurs to opportunities.

Related article: Accelerators Are The New Business School

Although the actors in the startup scene surely seem to be open, accessible and inviting, the audience was not aware of the myriad of opportunities to meet entrepreneurs, to taste the flavour of entrepreneurship and assimilate the educational value they offer. With 1200 startup events in the past 33 months, Brussels is for sure a dynamic startup city with a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Related article: Ultimate guide to Brussels #BeTech startup & entrepreneurship events

In order to get a better view, explore the Belgian startup map or the infographic, subscribe to Tech.eu or join the largest Belgian Startup Event on February 18 in The Egg in Brussels to meet and greet the lively Belgian startup scene.