Innovation That Matters reports on the state of entrepreneurship in the U.S. civic sector, which we define as the collection of highly regulated industries with entrenched institutional players intended to serve the public good. The purpose of this research is to understand how civic sector startup ecosystems have developed, what challenges actors in these ecosystems currently face, and what more can be done to increase startup activity in ways that benefits society. We find that fluid, open networks are the most important element in fostering vibrant communities of civic entrepreneurship because they connect diverse stakeholders within an industry and bridge cultural gaps to allow for effective collaboration.
Driving innovation that matters in highly regulated industries requires enabling connections between broad groups of people and institutions to break down silos and promote network growth. Despite the unique nature of the civic sector industries we studied—education, energy, health, and cities—all share a set of opportunities, challenges, and solutions for growing their ecosystems that separates them from the traditional tech sector.