Figure 1.4 Ecosystem Radar
Diagram illustrates the examples of core industries within the Nashville ecosystem (dark purple) and emerging clusters (light purple). Connections represent the potential of symbiotic support to strengthen and expand the regional economy. (click graphic to enlarge)



  • The community’s culture is a product of time and values of its citizens. Nashville’s ecosystem doesn’t have the rich history and connections between entrepreneurs that characterize more mature ecosystems.
  • High trust is critical to building networks quickly by reducing transaction costs. Nashville is fortunate to have a high trust culture. Most Nashvillians are willing to extend their social capital to existing and new residents making it easier for them to connect to the city’s social network. While there is competition, Nashvillians seek fairness rather than advantage. This Nashville Ethos creates a highly cooperative and welcoming environment. The legacy of the music industry’s presence and culture has contributed to the community’s capacity and willingness to collaborate.
  • While Nashvillians are more welcoming and willing to collaborate with individuals, there is less cooperation between organizations. The open innovation model is not commonly embraced by firms as a part of their innovation and growth strategy.
  • The common purpose of making Nashville a great city is present throughout the city.  It is this sense of common purpose and confidence in ourselves that further reinforces the foundation of the city’s innovation ecosystem. Nashville is an optimistic city.
  • The City’s low-cost business environment is attractive to companies and lowers the cost of starting new ones.
  • The entrepreneurial support system is primarily focused on the healthcare, music, and digital media at the expense of other emerging industries. Others feel left out.
  • The Nashville region has seen significant growth in advanced manufacturing. The city has an opportunity to build and draw upon this knowledge and know-how to support innovation.
  • The emerging sectors of artificial intelligence (Digital Reasoning) and blockchain (Hashed Health) offer an opportunity to expand the city’s economic diversity and nurture new clusters. These sectors create new competitive platforms and establish exportable products and knowledge.
  • Ecosystems that have less non-compete agreement enforcement are at an advantage because they allow for more movement between companies and the formation of new ones.


  • EE1.0 Promote a culture where innovation and entrepreneurial exceptionalism are expected. The language, attitudes, and action of city leaders should consistently promote an environment where innovation is expected, and citizens are inspired to take calculated risks. Much of New York City’s transformation into a center of innovation has been attributed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s relentless promotion of the city and the importance of entrepreneurship and his presence within the entrepreneurial community. In San Francisco, the success of the cities urban manufacturing renaissance was due in large part to the city leaders elevating it along side the tech companies successes. As a part of promoting a culture of innovation, the ecosystem should not only celebrate its successes but also understand its failures. By doing so, it can instill a higher acceptance of risk-taking, moderate expectations, and help others learn from these failures. It can also establish the necessary heroes and role models for others in the ecosystem.
  • EE1.1 Reinforce and celebrate the Nashville Ethos. Nashville ethos of trust, openness, and collaboration is the foundation of the innovation ecosystem and the city’s prime advantage. It must be nurtured in order for it to endure. Clearly articulating the expectations of the community and celebrating the culture is critical to accomplishing this. This message should be an integral part of Nashville’s recruitment and promotion strategy.
  • EE1.2 Develop growth strategies for clusters.  Clear and bold strategies need to be developed to ensure the growth of the city’s core industries. They should focus on navigating the disruptive market forces these industries are facing. The work the Nashville Healthcare Council is doing to realize Nashville’s potential for becoming one of the leading healthcare IT clusters in the country is an example of the types of initiatives that are needed for all of our core industry clusters.
  • EE1.3 Encourage more cooperation between companies. The extension of the Nashville Ethos between firms is critical for developing more competitive clusters. Open innovation should be encouraged to create platform driven solutions that benefit the city’s industry clusters.
  • EE1.4 Widen the peripheral view. The growth strategies for core competencies should also widen the peripheral vision to foresee potential transposition of the city’s core skills and knowledge into other new and emerging industries. The first step in understanding the opportunities is to inventory the knowledge and know how within ecosystem through a deep dive of the industries.  In addition, the creative talent within the city will also continue to develop new ideas. As they emerge, developing a system of tracking their evolution would enable more proactive nurturing of them. Figure 1.4 illustrates the ecosystem’s radar to ensure focus on core competencies and their potential transposition as well as emerging clusters of knowledge.
  • EE1.5 Examine impact of non-compete enforcement. The impact of enforcing non-compete agreements on innovation should be further examined to determine what if any steps should be taken to address this issue. The State of California’s Civil Code is an example that allows talent to move throughout the ecosystem.4