The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay > News/Newsletters > Newsletter > RECON (Regional Ecosystem Collaborative, ON)

Provided by Brandon Houston, Founder & President of The Collingwood Foundry

“This summer Collingwood hosted RECON, The RECON group acts as a regional ecosystem collaborative across Ontario and brings together resource providers and business support organizations that support regional business growth at federal, provincial, regional and municipal levels.

It’s a great example of the powerful cross-pollination that can happen when organizations work together and share knowledge.

The Foundry has been a part of this group since its inception and last month we were able to share what our own region of Southern Georgian Bay has going on. The Foundry, GB Accelerator, Small Business Enterprise Centre, and Community Futures South Georgian Bay spoke to the impact and support they provide to our entrepreneurs in the region.

These four organizations are only a small part of what makes up this region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. As Brad Feld describes in his book The Startup Community Way, these organizations, including others like Georgian College and our Municipalities are Actors in what makes a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. That entrepreneurial ecosystem is part of a larger innovation ecosystem that drives economic and societal impact.”

Feld derived his thesis about entrepreneurial ecosystems from complexity theory which originates from the science developed by physicists, evolutionary biologists, and social scientists. Complex adaptive systems and entrepreneurial ecosystems as he discovered work in similar ways. Like ecological systems these entrepreneurial ecosystems when the proper elements are introduced become adaptive and interconnected self-organizing, self-governing, and self-sustaining bodies.

Victor Hwang and Greg Horowitt in their research for the book The Rainforest which dives into the elements that led to Silicon Valley’s success came to similar conclusions by describing entrepreneurial ecosystems as functioning similar to rainforests. In their work they dive even deeper into describing the elements required for an effective ecosystem, which they describe as the hardware and the software. Most importantly though is creating the environment of freedom for all elements to interact.

“Nature organizes itself more efficiently when atoms, cells, and species are freer to interact with each other.”

“Freedom creates order”.

They identify a chicken and egg problem where an efficient ecosystem relies on trust and partnerships, but how do you develop that without having had the opportunities to do so? Which comes first? It’s the wrong question.

“The answer is neither. It is the nest which allows serendipitous innovation to emerge.
We’re building the nest in Southern Georgian Bay. While the innovation ecosystem operates like biological systems where talent, ideas, and capital acts as the nutrients that move through it freely, this sets the stage for human networks to create powerful patterns of self-organization.

A lot has been said about how to build an innovation ecosystem in our region. I argue that we already have by the interactions we’ve supported and continue to support like RECON and other groups.

We simply need to continue building the nest, nurturing the environment, and stepping back out of the way to let the magic happen.