Innovation Glossary

We have curated a collection of the most frequently used words and terminologies that are at the forefront of the innovation landscape. Our team has crafted concise yet comprehensive definitions by amalgamating insights from various publicly available and reputable sources.

Innovation Ecosystem

Innovation ecosystem is the term used to describe the various players, stakeholders, and community members that are critical for innovation. An ecosystem in nature is a community of living organisms that interact and grow together. An innovation ecosystem works just like its equivalent in the natural world: an environment where each component part and its relationship to one another creates a complex web of symbiotic interactions that collectively keep the entire system humming efficiently and effectively.

Innovation ecosystem is therefore a set of actors, institutions, and the relationships between them that contributes to driving innovation. These actors include universities, government, corporations, startup accelerators, venture capitalists, private investors, foundations, and entrepreneurs. They form a collaborative environment where they interact and support one another, fostering the exchange of information and the access to resources.

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A business entity which is in its initial stages of development (up to 10 years of operation). Startups typically start activity with the purpose of developing an innovative business model or technological component with high global growth potential, that is innovative and has the potential to significantly contribute to the development of the business environment. Distinguishing features of startups are speed and growth, as they generally aim to rapidly expand but lack the capital to move onto the next stage of business.



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What a Startup Is and What’s Involved in Getting One Off the Ground (

Estonian definition of startup


A business entity in the stage of its development where it experiences rapid growth and strives to expand its operations, customer base and revenues. Unlike startups, which focus on developing and validating business idea, scaleups progressed beyond the initial stages and are now actively pursuing growth through further investments, strategic partnerships, and market expansion. Scaleups represent a transition from startups to more established and scalable businesses, playing a vital role in fostering economic growth and generating job opportunities.

According to the OECD a scaleup is an enterprise with an average annual growth in employees or turnover greater than 20 percent per annum over a three year period, and with more than 10 employees at the beginning of the period.



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Innovative company

A company that actively pursues, develops, and implements novel and creative ideas, products, and processes to drive positive change and stand out in the market. Innovative companies consistently deliver innovative solutions by introducing new or significantly improved goods or services (product innovation) and implementing new or significantly improved production processes or distribution methods (process innovation). These companies are often associated with disruptive technologies, ground-breaking business models, and commitment to delivering value for customers and stakeholders.

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Also known as seed accelerator, is a program or organization that provides support, mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities to early-stage startups to help them accelerate their growth and enhance their prospects of achieving a success. Accelerators can be both publicly or privately funded, cater to various industries, and typically have a highly competitive application process.

A startup accelerator program expedites the growth of existing companies that have developed business models and validated products in the marketplace.Startup accelerators take on businesses that already have a solid foundation to build upon, so accelerators focus their guidance and resources to help ventures scale up as quickly as possible. In addition, accelerators commonly give their ventures a seed investment and take equity stakes in the companies.


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Is an organisation that offers a comprehensive support to startup companies, including management training, office spaces, networking opportunities and potential access to venture capital financing. The primary purpose of incubators is to assist entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. In contrast to accelerators, startup incubators generally focus on nurturing very early-stage businesses, may not always provide funding directly, and are often operated by universities or non-profit organizations.

Incubators provide startups with valuable resources such as free office space, equipment, mentorship, a collaborative community, and networking opportunities with potential funding sources, like angel investors and venture capitalists. Business incubators focus on brand-new businesses that still need to develop a product idea and business model.



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Accelerator vs Incubator

Even though there are similarities between accelerators and incubators, accelerators are more structured and offer scheduled programs. Entrepreneurs enter with a minimum viable product and then focus on developing their strategy, branding, marketing, and operations. An accelerator program usually concludes with a pitch event attended by investors and the press.

One of the big differences between accelerators and incubators is in how the individual programs are structured. Accelerator programs usually have a set timeframe in which individual companies spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months working with a group of mentors to build out their business and avoid problems along the way.

Startup incubators begin with companies (or even single entrepreneurs) that may be earlier in the process and they do not operate on a set schedule. If an accelerator is a greenhouse for young plants to get the optimal conditions to grow, an incubator matches quality seeds with the best soil for sprouting and growth.

In most cases, startups accepted into incubator programs relocate to a specific geographic area to work with other companies in the incubator. Within the incubator, a company will refine its idea, build out its business plan, work on product-market fit, identify intellectual property issues, and network in the startup ecosystem.

A typical incubator has shared space in a co-working environment, a month-to-month lease program, additional mentoring, and some connection to the local community.

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A cluster generally refers to a number of things gathered close together in a small group, especially around a central point. It could be equally defined as a number of things of the same type growing close together. If things cluster together, they gather or are found together in a small group, especially around a central point.

Innovation clusters therefore refer to geographic regions or areas where a concentration of innovative companies, organizations, and institutions thrive, fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and economic growth. These clusters bring together various actors from academia, industry, government, and support organizations, creating a vibrant ecosystem that drives innovation and competitiveness. Clusters are typically sector-related, e.g. IT clusters, biochemistry clusters etc, and their activities help to create education and job opportunities.


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