Unsung Hero Spotlight: Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence

To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

An ecosystem builder is a person that takes the system-level view of the innovation and entrepreneurial assets in a community, connects them, and fills in the gaps where necessary in order to help the ecosystem to continue to thrive and grow.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

The thing that motivates me the most as an ecosystem builder is the opportunity to inspire and support the next generation of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs and give them the tools and platform to transform their communities.

What is the most successful/impactful program/event/thing you do/have done in your ecosystem?

I contribute to my ecosystem in different ways. There are number of successes to name but I would have to say one of them is the design and implementation of a Innovation Hub at Prince George’s Community College – http://www.acceleratepgc.co

What is the biggest challenge you face as an Ecosystem Builder?

The biggest challenge I face as an Ecosystem Builder is focusing on the infrastructure and resources to scale. I come from a Big 4 management consultant firm background so I take a professional services approach to the work and that often means engaging in a number of projects in parallel. The sales cycle for sustainable ecosystem type projects is long and they don’t often present themselves as ecosystem building work. I am not funded at the level to keep staff on hand. I often need to build, on board and manage teams to deliver on the work in reactive mode.

What ecosystem building skill/knowledge do you want to gain?

I would like to gain skills and knowledge across the seven goals in order to build a sustainable professional services practice that support ecosystem building.

What are the most important things that need to happen to advance the field of ecosystem building?

The field of ecosystem building needs a “home” or “bridge” to current models of economic and community development so that it can be consistently resourced properly. Ecosystem building needs to be a sustainable revenue generating profession.

Why does Goal 7: Sustainable Work: Develop Professional Recognition and Resources for Ecosystem Builders matter to you?

Goal 7, specifically 7.1 Sustainable Funding Models, matters to me because generating revenue and funding for ecosystems building activities is a key to helping me build and grow Inncuvate. I come to this work from spending over 17 years in Big 4 management consulting leadership roles and my hypothesis is that there is a space for a professional services firm with ecosystem building as it’s core service offering that can help grow the field and deliver on multiple projects across the country if not the globe. My trial and error experience shows that funding for ecosystem building projects (outside of those that are grant funded and tied to real estate development activities) are very inconsistent and need a repeatable pricing and profitability model for more to be able to sustain and feed themselves to continue to do this great work.

What are you doing in the field to move this goal forward in your community?

I am digging in to my Management Consulting roots and trying different ways to brand, propose, and sell ecosystem building work. I operate at the intersection of economic development, community development, and workforce development to craft solutions. I am also serving as the connector for local entrepreneurs to regional and national resources. I am building a platform that combines entrepreneur mindset education, seed investment and startup studio high growth venture models to create more opportunities for the New Majority in the communities where they live. See igniteT2.inncuvate.com, acceleratepgc.co, and mihubcoop.com as examples.

Where can people learn more about this goal/your work on this goal/support you in your efforts?

I am active in the ESHIP community as a goal champion when I can fit it in 🙂 I have focused on building relationships within the community and looking for ways for mutually beneficial collaboration. I am happy to connect with more people. Feel free to contact me! Let’s chat.

How can we support you in your efforts?

I appreciate the support and help of storytelling. I am heads down in the work and appreciate the help sharing and amplifying. I also need help with the methods and metrics to chart the success of my efforts in order to scale.

Jeff Bennett

Editorial Director at Ecosystem Builder Hub https://jeff-bennett.medium.com/

Ecosystem Builder
Featured Original Content

Help Grow the Field of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building

Join a collaborative effort to design, create, and validate the advancement of the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice. A small, but growing number of people are turning to entrepreneurial ecosystem building as a strategy to build more inclusive and resilient economies. For years, the leading standard bearer in this nascent movement was the Kauffman […]

Read More
Ecosystem Building Leadership Project Launch
Featured Original Content Press Release

A National Project to Advance Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building

Leaders Across Thirty Plus National Entrepreneurship Support Organizations Come Together to Advance the Field of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building An initiative has launched to advance the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice, hosted by the International Business Innovation Associate (InBIA), with funding and support by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ecosystem Building Leadership Project (EBLP) […]

Read More
Cultivating a Practice of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Ecosystem Building Programs
Inclusion & Diversity Inclusive Field Insights from the Field Original Content

Cultivating a Practice of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Ecosystem Building Programs

Cultivating a culture and practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a core principle for entrepreneurial ecosystem builders. As part of the Insights from the Field campaign, I wanted to hear from other ecosystem builders in the field about their approaches to DEI, and hopefully identify specific techniques that they’ve incorporated in their […]

Read More