Consilient Technologies and the Newfoundland and Labrador advanced technology sector: The seeding of an ecosystem. The work examines the effects of Consilient Technology’s 2008 bankruptcy on the Province’snascent entrepreneurial ecosystem. WhileConsilient’s bankruptcy was, at the time, largely viewed as a negative event for the ecosystem, the longer-term impacts have never been investigated. Interestingly, evidence from other geographical contexts indicates that firm failure can have positive impacts on entrepreneurial ecosystems. This study, with the passage of time enabling a more balanced analysis, addresses the gap in our understanding of the failure’s effects on the ecosystem. The work addressed four main research questions:
1. What happened to Consilient’s employees after the closure - specifically, did they find other jobs in the local ecosystem, in what types of firms, and in what ways did their new employers benefit?
2. How much of the human talent created/nurtured by Consilient was ‘recycled’ in the St. John’s ecosystem?
3. Did Consilient’s closure have other effects on the ecosystem above and beyond the recycling of its human talent?
4. What were the attributes of Consilient and/or the ecosystem that influenced the impact on the ecosystem?
Using case study methodology, we conducted 28 semi-structured interviews and analyzed LinkedIn data from an additional 40 former employees who were not interviewed. Interviewees included: Consilient’s two founders, former Consilient employees, funders, industry experts, government, and board members.
Six main conclusions are drawn from the data analysis:
· Consilient acted as a strong mechanism for attracting and retaining high quality talent to the ecosystem;
· Consilient, byprovided its employees with arich work environment and unique experiences that allowedfor substantial personal development, provided talented (recycled) employees to the ecosystem;
· Consilient, intrainingits personnel how to think entrepreneurially on a global scale, contributed to a change in the ecosystem’s mindset;
· Thevast majority of people who worked at Consilient quickly moved on to work with other emerging tech companies in the local ecosystem;
· The knowledge spillover from Consilient to the ecosystem was evident across many companies, industry leaders, local investors, and both levels of government; and,
· Finally, Consilient served as an exemplar for the ecosystem across a number of dimensions from its ambitions to securing local funding.
This report concludes with a discussion of considerations for government funders.
In sum, this work strongly suggests that the Consilient failure had many positive benefits for the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The full report can be found here.
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