In July, I had the honor to present in the R&D Management Conference’s Ecosystem Stream. The presentation was well received and sparked an interesting discussion about the difference of networks and ecosystems. The discussion after the presentation was encouraging. It validated the thinking presented in the June blogpost “Fundamentals of Value Creation” which dives into the details of value creation and value capture and the role of networks and ecosystems.

Ecosystems are needed to solve complex problems

Ecosystems are about innovation, co-creation and solving problems together. Depending on the type of ecosystem you are in – the outcome can be new business in the form of solutions to known customer problems or new innovative business models or new knowledge. Regardless of the type of ecosystem, different organizations are needed. In the best ecosystems research organizations, corporations, SMEs and Start-Ups join forces to solve meaningful problems and to create value for all stakeholders.

Predicting the exact outcome of ecosystem collaboration can be sometimes difficult – as the nature and timing as well as business solutions tend to depend on the partners ability to work together.

To go “all in” one needs to tell lawyers to come up with new solutions

Considering the ambiguous nature of ecosystems, the legal framework needs to be open enough to enable collaboration. Tommi Uitto, President, Mobile Networks puts it well: “To make the most out of ecosystems requires new kind of thinking and shifting on the mental side. We should forget the company boundaries and let go of the limit of the legal entity. It is essential to go “all in” and share as much as possible, and tell your lawyers to come up with the solution rather than telling you what not to do”. Nuff said!

The conclusion: Agreeing about who gets the IPR is often not feasible, and trying to come up with a tight agreement is not possible – and not even desired. It is much more important to establish common purpose, engage the best organizations and people to work together and to create structures that support innovation and collaboration. That creates “bigger cake” for all ecosystem partners – and ensures that there is value to be captured for all.