Free Resources & Strategies for Higher Ed Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building. The C•CUBE Toolkit from UWO & Venn Collaborative sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation

Explore the Ecosystem Landscape

Navigating External Forces

Contexts and Environments theme and the Discovering stage

Positioned at the intersection of the Contexts & Environment theme and the Discovering stage, “Explore the Ecosystem Landscape” is foundational to entrepreneurial ecosystem development. It involves a comprehensive examination of the external factors, forces, and dynamics that shape the entrepreneurial environment. Understanding this landscape is essential for informed decision-making and strategic planning.

When ecosystem stakeholders and partners, including colleges and universities, work together to explore the ecosystem landscape, they build the capacity of ecosystem partners and the ecosystem itself:

  • Informed Decision-Making: Exploring the ecosystem landscape provides ecosystem builders with critical insights into the political, cultural, economic, and regulatory conditions that influence entrepreneurial activities. Armed with this knowledge, they can make informed decisions that mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities.
  • Adaptation and Resilience: A thorough understanding of the external environment enables ecosystem builders to develop strategies that enhance the ecosystem’s resilience. It allows for proactive adaptation to changes, minimizing disruptions and maximizing the ecosystem’s capacity to thrive.
  • Policy and Advocacy: Knowledge of the ecosystem landscape empowers ecosystem builders to engage in policy advocacy. They can advocate for changes that foster a more supportive environment for entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth.


As ecosystem-building partners explore the ecosystem landscape, consider the following:

  • Stakeholder Mapping: Identify and engage with key stakeholders who influence the ecosystem’s external environment, including government agencies, industry associations, community organizations, and regulatory bodies.
  • Environmental Scanning: Conduct ongoing environmental scans to stay updated on shifts in the ecosystem landscape. Monitor changes in regulations, market trends, and cultural dynamics that may impact entrepreneurial activities.
  • Risk Assessment: Evaluate the potential risks and challenges posed by the external environment. This includes assessing political stability, legal constraints, and market volatility.
  • Risk Mitigation: Develop risk mitigation strategies to address potential challenges arising from the external environment. This may involve diversifying revenue streams, establishing contingency plans, or building strong community support.
  • Collaborative Engagement: Foster collaborative relationships with external stakeholders, such as government agencies and industry associations. Engage in dialogue and partnerships to influence policies and regulations that support entrepreneurship.

Conversation Guides

Use these conversation guides to help you and your partners explore the ecosystem landscape.

Conversation Guide: Access to Capital Jigsaw — PDF | Word

Conversation Guide: Address Internal Institutional Dynamics — PDF | Word

Conversation Guide: Define the Meta-Ecosystem by Showing Connections Across Talent, Innovation, and Place — PDF | Word