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BBL: Visualizing Innovation Ecosystems: Networks, Events and the Challenges of Policy and Practice

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For the past five years Scott Dempwolf has collaborated with faculty and students in HCIL to develop new visualizations of innovation using NodeXL and, more recently, EventFlow. This talk presents some of the fruits of those collaborations and discusses some remaining challenges where new visualizations could help shape policy and practice related to innovation and economic development. Scott’s innovation network models use large administrative datasets including patents and research grants in new ways to create novel visualizations of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems using NodeXL software. These models are being used by policymakers and economic developers to help accelerate the commercialization of research by identifying specific opportunities between university research and industry. Examples include the Illinois Science & Technology Roadmap; the Great Lakes Manufacturing megaregion; the emergence of innovation clusters in Pennsylvania; and local applications in Howard and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland. More recently, working with co-PI Ben Shneiderman and the EventFlow team in HCIL, Scott’s research uses EventFlow (and CoCo) software to analyze sequences of innovation activities. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the goals of this research are to develop new innovation metrics and new insights into the complex sequences of activities that comprise innovation processes. EventFlow’s novel visualizations and analytic capabilities are central to achieving these goals. This talk will present examples of Scott’s work using both NodeXL and EventFlow, focusing specifically on how the visualizations were created and used. The emphasis will be on the use of visualizations as tools for exploring and understanding data and for generating hypotheses. Some ongoing challenges, especially those pertaining to the use of visualizations to shape understanding and public policy will also be discussed.


C. Scott Dempwolf is Assistant Research Professor in the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Director of the UMD – Morgan State Center for Economic Development. He is also affiliated with the National Center for Smart Growth Education and Research. His research focuses on understanding, modeling, visualizing and measuring innovation processes; their relationships to economic growth; and the implications for public policy, business strategy and economic development practice. Along with partners from BioHealth Innovation, Scott recently founded Tertius Analytics, LLC. The startup is focused on commercializing applications of his research. Prior to his “second career” in academia, Scott practiced community and economic development at the neighborhood, city, county and regional levels for over 20 years. He teaches an economic development planning studio and other planning courses. He earned his PhD in Urban and Regional Planning at UMD; a Masters in Community and Regional Planning at Temple University; and a Bachelor’s from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.