Navigating Complexity through Co-design: Visualising, Understanding and Activating Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Badziili Nthubu, David Ojeda Perez, Leon Cruickshank, Daniel Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) draw on inter-firm resources to innovate. As a result, SMEs find themselves embedded in complex local ecosystems that they do not fully understand. We used the co-design visualisation approach to help actors visualise, understand and activate entrepreneurial actions to address this challenge. The study engaged SMEs, researchers and innovation policymakers as examples of key actors in a local ecosystem. The first co-design workshop was at a Botswana leather incubator with 15 manufacturing SMEs. Then we evaluated our approach with 65 participants from research and policy environments across seven African countries. Lastly, we conducted a workshop with 20 SMEs from Botswana Innovation Hub. Our findings suggest that using ecosystem visualisations as rigorous heuristics empowers actors to identify opportunities for entrepreneurship. Implications for this research emphasise the role of co-design visualisations in navigating complex and less developed entrepreneurial ecosystems to drive regional strategy and innovation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jun 16 2022


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