University Economic Development Association

Momentum: UEDA and Economic Development Ecosystems

Ecosystem Design Network Report

Funded by the Lemelson Foundation to strengthen ecosystems by exploring the roles, resources and players needed to successfully drive innovation economies, the project, a pilot of UEDA’s plans for an Ecosystems Design Network (EDN), strove to address and further examine questions that emerged from The Lemelson Foundation’s Ecosystems 2.0 framework. This report covers the progress of the process, outcomes, and recommendations.

The project began in September of 2020 and proceeded through March of 2021. Central to the proposed work was a series of ecosystems design exploration events–a series of virtual workshops with UEDA members and participants in their ecosystems in which they explored the resources, roles, and players in their ecosystems and used a human-centered design approach to considering how to strengthen these ecosystems to support economic and community recovery. Learn more.

Our process was a multi-tiered graduated approach that progressed well. It began with an intensive and immersive design thinking workshop experience for ecosystem partners at the UEDA 2020 Virtual Summit. Cohorts of leaders from communities and regions from across the country registered for the day. They experienced a facilitated workshop designed to strengthen economic and community development ecosystems that would support creativity, invention, and entrepreneurism This workshop, titled “Ecosystem Acceleration for Recovery”, included focused activities to explore the roles of partners in ecosystems. A follow-up convening was hosted by UEDA for those participants in the Summit’s ecosystem workshop. Then, we conducted Insight and Ideation facilitated sessions with participating ecosystems. Next, a survey was sent to each ecosystem facilitator to provide feedback about the experience and document outcomes. Finally, more interviews were conducted to help evaluate the project.

The process produced outcomes and recommendations for ecosystems to improve and fortify their work and to prototype their ideas. The Ecosystem Design Network project proved to be a highly valued experience for participants and an important mission-aligned activity for UEDA. Download the Report

For information, please contact Jim Woodell, Owner and Principal, Jim Woodell & Company.

Follow UEDA’s ongoing Ecosystems work relative to the report here.