The Role of the Sea in an Innovation Ecosystem. A case study of blue community gardens.
Abstract: Innovation ecosystems (IESs) describe the interactions and co-evolvement of actors that enable innovation. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the concept of IESs in a context where the biological ecosystem and ecosystem services are vital elements. The thesis investigates what values that can be generated from different actors collaborating around cultivation, promotion and utilization of edible resources from the sea, in accordance with the idea of IESs. It also seeks a more holistic understanding of IESs, by investigating the role of nature (in this case specifically the sea) in the context. This is done using the case of an ongoing project regarding the development of a blue community (BCG) garden in Strömstad, and actors involved in the network are interviewed. The research questions are approached by exploring the theoretical framework of IESs and adjacent concepts and analysing them in relation to the empirical results, in line with the idea of abductive reasoning. Findings suggest that several values can be generated from the collaboration, such as access to new knowledge, improved reputation and stakeholder relations, and reduced environmental impact. Another way of understanding these values is by grouping them into the ecosystem services classification of providing, regulating, cultural and supporting services. Additionally, the findings reveal that the role of nature in the innovation context is fundamental, but not sufficiently represented in the theoretical framework of IESs or in the BCG network. It is therefore suggested that more holistic viewpoints should be embraced – in theory as well as in practise.
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