The emergent process of entrepreneurial innovation: evidence from Fabrication Spaces
University of Cambridge
PhD awarded 2022
In my PhD I explored the topic of product innovation development by individuals with a variety of different skills and backgrounds, which I refer to as “everyday” nascent entrepreneurs. I observed how these individuals benefit from joining a particular type of collaborative space which is becoming increasingly more available: Fabrication Spaces. These are open workshops which provide access to a variety of different tools, machines and materials to engage with product development for a small fee. In the thesis, I mapped the product development process of 19 different nascent entrepreneurs across 7 different Fabrication Spaces in Europe and focused on understanding how they managed to bring their product ideas to market. This entailed an analysis of their venturing activities as well as of the key feedback loops that took place between their product development and venture creation process. This analysis led to the identification of several potential process configurations that describe how everyday entrepreneurs refine and perfect their venture ideas through rapid cycles of learning in line with the lean entrepreneurship approach. I also identify which key resources help entrepreneurs move across the journey and show how in modern settings characterised by the availability of digital resources, nascent entrepreneurs are able to create venture prototypes as well as product prototypes when moving their ideas to market. These proto-ventures are minimum viable commercial infrastructures useful to penetrate an initial market at a low cost, for example using crowdfunding platforms and digital marketplaces. Finally, the thesis confirms that, despite not addressing entrepreneurship directly in their agenda, Fabrication Spaces are adapting their offering to increasingly accommodate entrepreneurial needs.
After the PhD I joined the chair of Technology for Change at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris as a post-doctoral researcher. I continue to explore the links between innovation and entrepreneurship in Fabrication Spaces with a particular focus on their differences across urban and rural contexts. I continue to stay involved with the RADMA community through the R&D Management conference, where I am running a track on the management and implementation of sustainable and inclusive innovation practices across different spatial and geographical contexts.