Creative entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation

Introduction

The purpose of establishing the strong and sustainable creative ecosystems described in the last chapter is to energise and support creative entrepreneurship. The challenges of achieving this in SIDS, whilst undeniably significant, are not insurmountable, particularly if we also apply the concept of innovation and entrepreneurship to the policies and practices of supporting these activities. All too often we've seen the strategies to support innovation inherently lacking the very characteristics they want to build. Alongside this is the essential drive to be more diverse and inclusive being built on concepts that are exclusionary and homogeneous. More often than not this is not a deliberate act but a failure to think innovatively about what innovation and entrepreneurship is.

If SIDS are to build the digital, creative and knowledge-based economies that are now so essential to their future sustainability, then the way innovation and entrepreneurship is supported and financed in these regions has to be innovative in itself, not built on restrictive practices and concepts.

The concept of entrepreneurship

Innovation and entrepreneurship are inherently creative activities, regardless of the sectors involved or the outputs achieved. The conceptualising of something new and the vision and imagination to step beyond the normal bounds of a product or service are what mark the entrepreneur from simply the business owner. Entrepreneurs are agents of change, driven by the recognition of a problem that in turn creates a commercial opportunity. Over the last 30 years, the term has become ubiquitous, entering popular culture as a signifier of creative ambition, wealth creation and status. It is also now recognised as an essential part of every country’s economy as a creator of new jobs and prosperity (Galindo-Martin & Mendez-Picazo, 2020).

Because of this, the concept of entrepreneurship has seen its cultural and social value rise, with increasingly knowledge-based economies linking creative and entrepreneurial skills ever more closely, with the status and social capital of the entrepreneur as celebrity continuing to rise.

This creative entrepreneurship has also become more visible with the increasingly rapid pace in technological and product development cycles that has seen the lifetime of products falling ever more quickly. This then has the knock-on effect of making large product standardisation and production less important. Creativity, innovation and rapid response times are the new central tenets of commerce.

Innovation is also becoming increasingly open with creative and cultural entrepreneurs forming collaborative working partnerships to bring sectors and knowledge together. The impact of these economic and technological developments are putting severe strain on social, ethical and governance frameworks that also then, in turn, require creative, entrepreneurial innovations to address them.

There are, however, complex and often ingrained issues with developing these entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems. Organisations and governments at a local, national and international level are struggling to see their policies and strategies keep pace with economic and social changes, leading to a mismatch between appropriate structural and fiscal support frameworks. This is evident in the dogmatic coupling of innovation to science and technology in many research, policy and strategy documents.

Policy and strategy are also struggling to address the widening spatial inequalities in entrepreneurship and innovation. This is true with developed economies and is multiplied many times over in developing countries and island states. These regions are often rural or semi-rural in nature, feature small or dispersed populations or are polycentric in terms of urban concentrations. The focus on cities as centres of creative innovation and entrepreneurship still persists despite many declarations to make economic participation and development more equal.

The challenges of achieving this goal for developing regions are hindered by their ability to respond to externally caused recessions like the financial crash of 2008 and the even greater recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. According to Mitra (2019), this is where entrepreneurship can really succeed, in distressing circumstances that require new ideas, new structures and new approaches - necessity indeed being the mother of invention.

Entrepreneurship is however high-risk, with failure rates, even those techbased, venture capital backed start-ups, hitting more than 90% (Gauthier & Pen-zel, 2020). To enable these start-ups to innovate and then move beyond the seed phase and into revenue and growth, access to finance, mentoring and business support across the whole development spectrum becomes essential.

 
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