Evaluating the contribution of Belgian ICT start-ups to innovation
Faculty of Applied Economics
Academic Conferences International, 2009
Proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Antwerp, Belgium 10-11 September 2009
University of Antwerp
The ICT market is a quite dynamic industry sector regarding number of start-ups. Additionally, ICT is often named as important field for innovation in Belgium. From a technology diffusion and adoption perspective, the ICT sector is important as many new applications are driven by or supported by ICT-related developments. However, knowledge and understanding of the innovativeness of these ICT start-ups and their contribution to technology development and diffusion is currently relatively limited. Aim. The aim of this study is to investigate if ICT start-ups contribute to the development and dissemination of new technologies and innovations, as it could be that the newly established ventures primarily aim at exploiting the founders' knowledge and expertise on their own account rather than developing and introducing new technologies and new knowledge. This difference could be revealed using different innovation parameters, measured by an empirical study. In addition, existing typologies of ICT innovations will be used to verify in which domain(s) newly established ICT ventures are active. In this sense, the innovativeness will be matched with needs in both the Belgian industry and the global ICT sector. Survival and performance of the starters will be included as control variables. Methodology. The research will be executed adopting a three-phase mixed-method approach. First, a literature review on the subject and an assessment of the Belgian policy and initiatives towards the enhancement of innovativeness is performed, with specific attention for the ICT sector. A second stage consists of a qualitative research. In this phase, the typology of ICT innovations and the innovativeness measures will be verified and tested within the industry using semi-structured interviews with managers of ICT ventures. Additionally, a round table discussion with industry experts will be used to select appropriate case studies for this phase. The final research phase will gather data on a larger scale using a quantitative survey approach, based upon the findings of the preceding qualitative and literature research. The sample consists of Belgian start-ups in the ICT sector established between 2000 and 2006. These limitations have been chosen because the similar geographical setting in which these ventures operate and because financial data are available for all companies of our sample using the Bel-First financial database. All companies for which no financial data are available will be excluded from our sample. Implications. Comparing the innovativeness of start-ups with the need for innovation in Belgium and a typology of ICT innovations, will assess the current innovation potential of Belgian start-ups. The results of this work-in-progress are useful for a number of stakeholders. First, the ICT industry in general, and the individual ICT organisations in particular, will be provided with an overview of the innovativeness of their industry. This can potentially indicate market opportunities for ICT innovations. Second, government can verify whether their policy and initiatives result in relevant ICT innovations. Third, researchers can expand the research setting to similar countries also focusing on innovation within the ICT industry.