Some time ago (two months or so)  I was lucky  to be invited to participate as a mentor in my first iWeekend Castellón in its second edition. It was a very positive experience,  not from the final result perspective but how we arrived at that result and the implications of the process.

“iWeekend is an intensive and innovative experience that brings together talented entrepreneurs and professionals of different profiles to select 3 ideas and bring these ideas to reality by collaboratively developing a business plan and a prototype, all in one weekend.” iWeekend started in Barcelona and it is organized  annually all over Spain and now is being exported internationally to Mexico, Russia, India and China by passionate entrepreneurs looking to bring this exciting experience to their communities.

Being able to gather 50 people during a weekend in order to select an idea from all the participants, which will be subsequently analyzed, redesigned and launched to the market is something to be proud of … but being able to get the rest of the participants – that is, those whose idea has not been selected- then stay as volunteers to support the process of relaunching … is a real heroism.

I will not assess the quality or effectiveness of the event itself because it is not  the subject of this post, but the time that I invested that weekend made me reflect on the strength that such activities have in generating new knowledge, new innovations based on hybridations .

iWeekend could be seeing as  a “Crowdsourced Business Generator” . A set between 20 and 40 people will be breaking their brains to take the selected idea and create some expectations that it will be success at the market.

On the other hand, we might have to start thinking about additional formats such as one that conforms  a “Crowdsourced Business Accelerator” as the second phase. By this I mean that the merit is not only in creating a business with the support of all the participants  but being able to accelerate a process of “spinning” and thus revitalize it in a market “magmatic” like ours (I like Genis Roca’s view:  “the magma as it cools the terrain change), ie we are moving ourselves in constantly changing environments and therefore the need to adapt  ourselves too all the time.

The involvement of  other elements  (crowdsourcing, user co-creation at the Living Labs) in setting up a business initiative or project from a tangible or intangible asset, that can sometimes arise by serendipity, creates a very special and  interesting situation as a source of new knowledge and innovation.

Under this framework, I was looking  for models that could  explain the generation of new knowledge and innovation by proximity between individuals for the exchanging of ideas, for their continuous interaction, and so I got the concept of “Knowledge Spillover” ( KS).

It’s a fairly old concept, Alfred Marshall defined a theory of Knowledge Spillover  in 1890 that was later strengthened by Kenneth Arrow and Paul Romer leading MAR model (1992). They were  reinforcing the effect produced by the exchange of ideas between employees of the same organization (internal KS) or between employees of different companies but within the same industry (external KS). Silicon Valley is a good example of MAR spillover.

Additionally  two slightly different models appeared: the Porter (1990) and Jacobs (1969) ones. The first reinforces the MAR model but insisting that the Knowledge Spillover in the geographic concentrations of similar industries and specialized, but in a competitive perspective, stimulates business growth and generates innovation.

Moreover, Jane Jacobs extends the model postulating the need for corporate diversity, interaction between employees of different industries close geographically, to generate innovation and business growth (could be considered as the main basis of the current Henry Chesbrough’s Open Innovation process ).

It is quite clear that the three types of Knowledge Spillover are identified in environments such as Scientific-Technological Parks: MAR or Porter type models in those formed as clusters or as Jacobs ones  in the most plural confluence of different kinds companies and industry (such as of our Science and Technology Park in Castellon,  espaitec).

From this perspective,  iWeekend event also could fit into  Jacobs model,  not only for its meaning but for its involvement in the entrepreneurship environment as a generator of business opportunities for the creation of new shared knowledge (Acs and Audretsch, “Knowledge Spillover Theory of Entrepreneurship “in November 2006,  details very well the landscape. I recommend it to be read)

Furthermore, in one of my last posts (and which was later improved version published in the online journal “Innovation Management”) I reflected in an advanced model of the classic dynamic clusters named Porter’s “Convoy Model.” Well, the Knowledge Spillover effect is derived from a process in which Convoy hybridization between disciplines are able to generate direct innovation spontaneous and / or induced.

The questions that now  I wonder myself  are:

1 .-Am I able to  manage Knowledge Spillover  innovation generation through procedures or protocols ?

2 .- Is it possible to measure the generation of innovation by objective KPI  that could allow me to compare with other models and assess their effectiveness and under what elements can be accelerated?

Perhaps the key can be found in the processes of Ideas Management  that could be extrapolated to manage knowledge spillover and not generated directly. Interesting question in which I am still working on.

About Juan A. Bertolin

I consider myself a “orchestrator” to tackle challenges  putting together the hybridization of independent solutions to achieve a comprehensive and higher value added final solution (where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). Since 2006 I started to enjoy supporting entrepreneurs and companies to grow, innovate co-opeting, opening spaces for open collaboration and sharing, integrating the customer experience and emotions in co-designing new innovative elements.

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