The research aims to implement the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystem (EE) in the context of Estonia and develop further the theoretical understanding of EE.
The list of domains and elements differ across theoretical models of EE used in previous studies. To implement a concept of EE in the context of Estonia by using one EE model, a new model of EE was created by combining four previous EE models, including a process-based approach towards EE in order to incorporate the processes of evolution and transformation of EE. A new EE model comprises nine distinct domains with their relevant components: leadership, markets, human capital, R&D, finance, support services, infrastructure, policy and regulatory framework, and culture. The dynamics of EE is captured through the phase of development of EE, which could be nascent, strengthening, mature, resilient and weakened. Additionally, also the the entrepreneurial activity inside the EE and aggregated value-added created as a result of it is important.
The analysis of the theoretical models of EE and the Estonian business communities (small craft building, biotechnology, incl health technologies, food producers and producers of wooden houses) resulted in a typology of business communities based on the phase of development of the community (nascent, strengthening, mature, resilient and weakened) and dominating knowledge bases of the respective industry (analytic, synthetic and symbolic). This approach allowed exploring in detail the business communities present in Estonia resembling an EE, which cannot be compared to large globally successful ecosystems in terms of their size and importance. They are, nevertheless, important parts of EE inside a specific country, which development and evolvement requires external support. The study includes also practical discussions as to what has contributed to the development of different business communities and to their reaching of the current phase, and what influences their development in 10-15 years perspective.