Technology innovation hubs vary hugely in their strategies, focus, size and activities as well as the context in which they operate.
It’s difficult to define a ‘typical’ tech hub but most provide state-of-the-art equipment, mentorship and training to the technology and entrepreneurial communities. They tend to be open plan spaces which are designed to enable a community to grow, encouraging collaboration and stimulating problem solving amongst members. Hubs run regular events and social activities to bring together technologists and entrepreneurs, encouraging collective action to maximise impact. In this way, hubs create convening power.
Hubs also support the creation of social and commercial start-ups. They offer technologists and entrepreneurs the opportunity to increase their developer skills and support them to navigate many of the challenges involved in establishing a business or organisation through mentorship, training, incubation and acceleration programmes. This maximises the chances of start-ups achieving success. By providing entrepreneurs with a space in which to work, they reduce their costs and give them credibility and exposure.
Hubs enable technologists to establish partnerships with donors, civil society, the media, corporations and relevant government officials. Collectively they work to tackle social challenges in novel ways. They also help social projects and new businesses attract funding and advocate for policies and a regulatory environment which support their work.
While it is hard to make generalised statements about hubs, Oxford researcher Nicolas Friederici has attempted to do so here. He highlights their role in bringing together diverse players, encouraging collective action to maximize their impact, enabling serendipity, building community, stimulating collaborative innovation and idea generation.
The support offered by technology innovation hubs is often crucial for new start-ups and the range of start-ups emerging from hubs is breath-taking. Hubs offer training and mentorship, networking and pitching opportunities.
If you’d like to hear more about the experiences of the people running the hubs, please see here.