Why coopetition boosts your ecosystem and vice versa

The world in which companies act, becomes more complex every day. Business environments are more diverse, dynamic, and interconnected than ever. Which makes them far less predictable.

One strategy to survive this faster environment is coopetition. This requires companies to create business strategies that capitalize on relationships in order to create maximum value in the marketplace. A model in which a network of stakeholders cooperate and compete to create maximum value.

digital disruption

Digital disruption is radically changing the way businesses start and grow. Over the past few years, several industries have been shaken up. Global digital transformation forces all industries to radically rethink proven business models, to change fast and continuously.

No longer can the corporate giants rely on being the leanest and meanest to stay at the top of their game. Amassing resources and expertise is no longer enough to guarantee success. To a large extent, it’s who and more than what you know that matters.

Being agile and responsive is crucial to gaining, and keeping, a strategic advantage. As such, flexibility is key for success.

Coopetition in your network

Small businesses

Small businesses face massive competition, ranging from global super-corporates and established market leaders to innovative entrepreneurs working out of their bedrooms.

It is the art of collaboration that gives SMEs a strategic advantage in a competitive marketplace. The infrastructure of huge enterprises can be clunky and cumbersome. While smaller businesses that operate within a collaborative network can take decisions and adapt to new trends and customer bases much faster.

Hundreds of startups are launched each month. Startups are changing the way we think about competition because they tend to thrive by having access to resources they do not own. They tap into new ways of doing business, embracing freelancers and crowdfunding amongst others. As start-ups and small businesses flourish, digital commerce continues to boom and industry boundaries break down.

Collaboration is the New Competition

Competition suggests a win-lose situation in which data, contacts and other resources are hoarded and closely guarded. Collaboration and coopetition on the other hand reflect a win-win strategy because it permits the sharing of information and ideas.

Achieving repeated innovation in this context is easier and faster than in a secretive, hyper-competitive environment because collective intelligence is an unrestricted resource that can be shared openly to spark ideas and create change. By innovating and constantly updating what you do and how well you do it, you can compete successfully, even in a crowded marketplace.

Coopetition or cooperative competition is the new way, whereby businesses push one another to be more productive by working together, while also safeguarding each individual’s competitive advantage. At first glance it might seem weird that competition and collaboration can co-exist. But in fact, collaboration is simply competition in a different form, it is all about joining with the competition to achieve greater success together.

The key benefit of coopetition and collaboration is speed and time to market. Working collaboratively significantly reduces the time and the costs associated with new product development. Collaboration (and coopetition) allows business owners access to new products and markets at the speed that today’s marketplace demands.

the future belongs to ecosystems

Today, your competitive advantage is not driven by the resources you control, but those you can access. Increasingly, rather than owning resources and capabilities outright, we use platforms to access ecosystems of technology, talent and information. The path to success no longer lies in clawing your way to the top of the heap, but in nudging your way to the center of the network.

The future belongs to ecosystems. Networks of organizations transacting to create value for themselves and the rest of the ecosystem within one or more market environments. The ability to innovate – whether by improving existing products, services or processes, or by generating new ones – is crucial to business success. 

Being able to capitalize on your relations requires a deep and profound insight in your ecosystem. Knowing your competitors and partners will lead to more possibilities of collaboration (or coopetition). This will not only push you up, but can improve the situation of the entire cluster.

Stay a front runner with datascouts

About datascouts

DataScouts helps companies to stay front runners in their business! DataScouts uses network intelligence to aggregate business critical information and to spot market trends, relevant innovations, deal makers and key influencers.

We provide a platform to help with the process of building ecosystem intelligence. The interactive visualisations and the benchmarking capabilities provide insights about the players, trends and dynamics within the ecosystem and allow companies to build and leverage their competitive advantage. Harvesting, unifying and aggregating data is a vital part of DataScouts.

Find the right players in your ecosystem and start growing together!


Ecosystems and new forms of collaboration

Have you read the book of Frederic Laloux about reinventing organizations? If you have never heard of his work, we can really advise you to buy his book or watch one of his key notes.

We found his writings particularly interesting because it has clear links with our work around analyzing connected organisations, improving collaboration and mapping ecosystems.



What is an organization? Organizations are best defined as ‘a group of individuals, large or small, that are cooperating under the direction of executive leadership in accomplishment of certain common object.’ (K.Davis, 2008).

Organizations have been around since the beginning of time. The first cavemen formed groups and tribes to create better living circumstances. These tribes are not yet organizations but are the start of forming groups. As humans evolved, so did their way of organizing.

These evolutions have, according to Laloux, resulted in 5 types of organizations.

The evolution of organizations & ecosystems
© Frederic Laloux (content based on his book „Reinventing organizations“ (2014)


To really get a detailed explanation on the evolution of organizations, we advise to read the book Reinventing Organizations (F. Laloux, 2012) which can be bought or downloaded on his website. We will try to capture the gist of it for you.

Evolution of organizations

Organizations have evolved because the old model didn’t fit a new situation. The first real organization were the Red (impulsive) organization. The leadership was based on power and fear. It was/is very useful in periods of chaos. This type can still be found in the mafia or militia’s.

The red organizations became Amber (conformist) organizations. These were based on hierarchy and stability and resulted in scalable organizations. This type was used for a long type and can still be found in governments and public companies.

Because Amber organization couldn’t react to quickly changing conditions, Orange (achievement) organizations, took their place as the most common used type. This is the case until today. Orange organizations used bonus and other (positive) incentives to sustain leadership and focus on competition. This has introduced innovation and meritocracy and has invented departments like marketing, research and development and product management.

This view hits his limits once workers start to feel like a part of the machine and aren’t engaged in work anymore. That is why Green ‘pluralistic’ Organizations have emerged to provide workers with more meaning and less focus on profits. They have prioritized the stakeholder-view and the need for corporate culture and empowerment.

It is now clear that this has its limits as well. Hierarchies still exist in green organizations and this clashes with the need for freedom. Decision making can be really slow by the constant need of consensus.


Describing the teal organization is not easy. It goes against everything you know (or think you know) about company structures.

Laloux boils it down to 3 pillars:

  1. Self-management
  2. Wholeness
  3. Evolutionary purpose


This is a new way of distributing power. To quote Laloux: ‘In these organizations, no one is the boss of anyone else, there is no more pyramid, there are no more layers of hierarchy, almost no staff functions. Instead they use different types of self-managing structures and peer based processes that prove to be much more powerful, inspiring and agile than the staid old pyramid.’

This goes further than empowerment via inverted pyramid structures or self-managing teams.


Teal-organizations invite employees to show up ‘as a whole person’ instead of only their professional self. This way they ensure that their employees can use their passions, energy and creativity and not limit themselves to one way of thinking and handling.

Evolutionary purpose

Rather than pushing a company in one direction via KPI’s, budget plans, strategic plans,… Teal-organizations try to find their ‘natural way’. They see the organization as a living organism and try to let it grow like one.

This requires a new way of leadership where leaders have to listen to where they want to go.


Summary of the different types

Organization Leadership style Breakthrough Metaphor
Red predatory Division of labor

Command authority

Amber paternalistic Formal roles


Orange Goal-oriented Innovation



Green Participative Empowerment

Values-driven culture

Stakeholder model

Teal Distributed Self management


Evolutionary purpose

Living organism

Here is a real nice video that explains the different types in a nice way.

It’s all about ecosystems

Reading Laloux’ theory about the evolution of organisations, we immediately recognized the same concepts in the work we are doing around (business) ecosystems.

Over the last decades, connected organisations have been evolving. Besides formal business networks, federations and associations, innovation driven and goal-oriented accelerators have been emerging as well as cooperatives and (formal and informal) communities of creative, entrepreneurial people. They gather to test new ideas, join into ventures and kickstart the global economy.

These new forms of collaboration allow allies to connect and find support and investment.

These new collaborations are enabled by people from diverse backgrounds who share a commitment to contributing to a better future

  • inspired by new forms of leadership where leaders are ‘convenors’ who understand how to create social, economic and cultural value and move happily between these different worlds
  • with an ‘open’ ethos and strong shared vision, getting organised in small collectives, co-operatives, fab lab, maker spaces, online platforms or large physical structures
  • with a focus on developing digital technology, enterprise and social innovation, supporting new ventures, global collaborations and growth, and new kinds of relationships between creative practice, business and audiences.

The new forms of collaboration are teal organizations with a distributed leadership. They create local clusters within a bigger organization or a network of local partners that have the power to act. They strive together for a common goal while acting as independent organisations. Innovation in teal organisations is not centralized but originates when different actors sense a need for change and choose to interact with each other.

Where we come in

An important aspect of teal organizations is their ‘evolutionary purpose’, growing as a living system, learning from every interaction with users, partners and stakeholders. It requires the capability to carefully listen, observe and to truely understand the needs and dynamics in a market place. That’s where we can help.

DataScouts helps you to develop situational awareness and insights in the dynamics in your market for you to take informed decisions and find the natural growth of your organization.

This is a mapping of the Brussels Creative ecosystem, a cross-disciplinary platform enabling new and disruptive collaborations in order to co-create the right climate for cross-over innovation and disruption using the city as launchpad for digital transformation.

Collaboration in the Burssels Creative Network

Start gathering ecosystem intelligence today and create your own ecosystem!

About Datascouts

DataScouts helps companies to stay front runners in their business. DataScouts uses network intelligence to aggregate business critical information and to spot market trends, relevant innovations, deal makers and key influencers.
At DataScouts, a young, dynamic teal organization, we are grateful to have the opportunity to tap into resources, knowledge and expertise available in the Belgian tech startup ecosystem and to grow with the support of our customers, mentors and advisors.

Learn more

The best way to learn more about Laloux’s work is by buying his book. You can download it as an e-book, a pdf or buy the real book on his website: http://www.reinventingorganizations.com/. We found a lot of his conference talks on his channel very inspiring and helpful. And they are available in different languages!

Their are also some other posts available that give you more details or summarize the book really good. We’ve listed a few that inspired us for this blog.

Reninventing your organization pdf





Collaboration in the WEAR Sustain network

WEAR Sustain is a European project that wants to stimulates the future ideas and innovations for wearables and e-textiles in an ethical and sustainable way. DataScouts is one of the seven partners in the WEAR consortium. More information can be found on our cases page.

collaboration by visualisation

Because the open call deadline is almost there, we want to visualise the power of the network on these events.

If you already had a great idea for the future of wearables, but your still looking for a partner to really boost your project

At these events we will help you to gain visibility under the participants and maybe find your ideal match! We will also create newly formed collaborations live at the events.

If you want to share your idea with us, fill in this form and send it to wear@datascouts.eu. We will make your ideas visual and find your perfect match!


One of the people who applied is DEWI ORIGAMI. His idea is to combine traditional folded wearables with modern technology.

foldable wearables


We hope to see you soon at one of the events!

  • 16 may – Ghent: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/link-up-talk-the-new-textile-generation-call-wear-sustain-tickets-34029109984?aff=es2
  • 17 may – Brussels: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wear-sustain-support-event-brussels-belgium-tickets-34271427763?aff=eac2
  • 18 & 19 may – Eindhoven: http://www.creativering.eu/eindhoven-wear/

It is time to 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: 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.

A business  ecosystem  brings  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.

Do you want more information on coopetition? How it affects your ecosystem and vice versa? Be sure to take a look at this blogpost!

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 your 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!

Or 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:


How new ideas emerge in 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.