Systems Innovation London: Building Blocks of Innovation Ecosystems

What are Innovation Ecosystems, what are their relevant building blocks and what is the role of Systems Thinking and Complexity approaches in them?

I was happy to represent Systems Change Finland and my employer Laurea University of Applied Sciences Systems Innovation London conference on Friday 13.5.2022 when I delivered a workshop/talk on Building Blocks of Innovation Ecosystems.

Ecosystems are open and interaction-based forms of collaboration that bring together multiple organizations around a theme or challenge. Ecosystems take a long term view in developing understanding, new knowledge or technologies, new services, products or solutions and the capabilities of the participating organizations in responding to the challenges better than they could be able to do alone. Ecosystems also seek to influence their operating environments in order to make them more conducive to the ecosystem’s activity.

Researcher Katri Valkokari identifies three predominant types of ecosystems (not an exhaustive list). Knowledge Ecosystems are often academia-driven and seek to bring together stakeholders to create new research in knowledge or technologies. Business Ecosystems are often business driven and foster the collaboration needed to create or operate in growth markets. Innovation Ecosystems are focused on the exploration of new innovations but operate in the pre-competitive space where Open Innovation is possible.


The Finnish Open Innovation orchestrator/facilitator CLIC Innovation has developed the Ecosystem Playbook that outlinees a framework/process and according set of tools, canvases and workshop facilitation guides that outline one process by which ecosystems might come to being and operate. Ecosystems seek to bring together multiple parties to identify a common purpose and vision but in addition to this create shared portfolios that guide practical development and action.


Ecosystem orchestration consultant and researcher Sari Kola is one of the authors of the Ecosystem Handbook — The Art of Leading and Creating Impact. In the book they outline why ecosystems are an example of complex adaptive systems. Their participants change during the ecosystems different phases and states of maturity which they call the Ecosystem Journey. This requires adaptive management practices, planning for change and building the resilience of the ecosystem by fostering systems leadership all over the ecosystem.


Ecosystems also require shifting mindsets and developing other building blocks that I mention in the presentation. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn if you’re interested in discussing or geeking out on this topic!

You can watch the recording of the presentation here:


On Saturday 14.5.2022 I also had the honor of joining the Ecosystem Building panel with Yan Liu, Charlotte Hochman and Inna Chilik who are hands-on ecosystem builders. I took the position of bringing in thoughts synthesizing ecosystems know-how and what types of capabilities and skills might be shared in many ecosystem initiatives.

You can watch the panel here:

Interested to learn more about Systems Change Finland and about how to join our community?

Systems Change Finland seeks to cultivate a society that can deal with systemic and complex challenges. The purpose of Systems Change Finland is to promote the application of approaches that help people, organizations and society understand and work with systems and complexity.

● Join the Systems Change Finland group on Facebook

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● Become a member and check our WWW-page at



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Mikael Seppälä

📈 Project Manager #InnovationManagement & #Ecosystems @LaureaUAS | ⚡️ @systemschangefi #SystemsChange | 🔥 #SystemsThinking #Complexity