The knowledge feeders
The digital ecosystem fuels on knowledge. New technologies, patents, user experience, disruptive business models continuously enrich the ecosystem. Universities, academic institutions, private and public labs are the main knowledge generators and feeders.
The ecosystem could not survive and generate value if unable to rely on ongoing Research and Labs. The students, PhDs holders, researchers need the start-ups to take their fundamental approach, theories and concept to an application in the real world. Likewise start-ups appreciate the opportunity to link their product with a patent putting on their business a higher barrier to entry.
Research is organized and funded differently according to countries. In the US, private companies often fund University labs. Knowledge is such a mandatory energy for the digital ecosystem that world renown universities like the MIT publish freely their courses online. The MOOCs born in 2008 have revolutionized the access to knowledge.
Multinational companies like Google and Microsoft invest a high percentage of their income in R&D sometimes with very long term objectives as described for example on the Alphabet front page. However technological innovation differentiates more traditional industries, hence some automobile manufacturers, who need to lead in the self-driving cars rank high in the R&D spend. This list of the highest R&D spenders provided by Statistica is relevant of where most innovation is needed. In some European countries Research Centers can be public agencies such as the CNRS in France. Business Schools to some extend contribute by building new business models, designing new organizations. They are useful in formalizing new concepts such as holacracy, sociocracy even if they initially derived from agile SW development. Equally the concept of growth hacking marketing built a totally different way of going to market and growing your business. It defined a creative method of using social networks, analytics.