The Role of Innovation Intermediaries in Developing Healthcare Innovation Ecosystems: Value Co-Creation through Platforms
Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Creating sustainable agile innovative environments is a persistent challenge, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The disruption in services has highlighted the need to foster innovation, build resilient health systems, operationalise technology banks and build more domestic capacity whilst harnessing global cooperation. These are the mandates of the 3rd, 9th and 17th Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One organisation cannot maintain and develop these systemic dynamics alone, hence ecosystems of actors ranging in structure and size are formed. These are the foundational precepts of this dissertation as it explores how to manage innovation ecosystems. Though such concerns are across diverse industries, this study was in healthcare. The aim was to inform under-resourced countries on how to ensure sustainability on projects often funded by foreign funders, which is rampant in the Global South. This study contributed to the discourse of ecosystems research by developing an Ecosystem Evolution and Emergence Framework that assists in the management of the innovation ecosystem. Ecosystems research has mainly focussed on the structure of ecosystems and less attention has been devoted to the emergence of ecosystems. Thus,this study contributes to shedding some light on ecosystem emergence.The framework has two pillars for the innovation intermediary: outlining the key tasks to undertake at each ecosystem stage and the key aspects that are important to identify, monitor or cultivate in the ecosystem for the ecosystem actors. A constructivist perspective was used to better understand the relationship between innovation intermediation and innovation ecosystems. Conceptually, the framework development process was guided by Soft Systems Methodology with an emphasis on learning from the history of past projects addressing the same issues. These theoretical tools were deduced from established theories in innovation systems and complexity science embedded in a narrative explanation-Event Structure Analysis. This analysis was utilised through applying event colligation and displaying through Causal Loop Diagrams Empirically, a comparison of the emergence sequences from three healthcare innovation ecosystems was undertaken. These are the Maternal Alliance for Mobile Action (MAMA), Mom Connect and the District Health Information System (DHIS2). The activities and functions were mapped in the study across the innovation ecosystem development stages of birth, expansion and self-renewal using the framework. This resulted in the identification of 39 core ecosystem events deemed leverage points–each with a myriad of activities. The evaluated framework culminated in five distinct leverage categories of structural, technological, social, knowledge and political leverage. This is presented as an ecosystem management tool that enables: 1) building of innovation ecosystems; 2) facilitating improvement and sustainability of existing innovation ecosystems; and 3) providing the ecosystem manager with tools to address commonly experienced challenges. The tool’s main aim is to provide guidelines on how ecosystems emerge and are governed. The systematic approach followed in the study lends itself to future development and expansion with various other computerised tools.
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