Anchor Entrepreneurship and Industry Catalysis: The Rise of the Italian Biomedical Valley

Summary of Study

Bottom line: A Schumpeterian entrepreneur like Mario Veronesi can transform a given geography into a business hub by establishing primal markets in labor, material inputs and services. These entrepreneurs' economic actions can set off cascading effects within a defined geographic space, awakening the animal spirits of both neophyte and seasoned economic actors by signaling unimagined possibilities of wealth creation and development. 

The town Mirandola, Italy transformed from a rural backwater into an industrial giant through the tireless efforts of an entrepreneur named  Mario Veronesi, who in 1962 from his parents’ home garage started assembling simple medical kits made of nontoxic disposal plastic tubing for blood tests and transfusions. He laid the foundations for a burgeoning industry that would form the embryo of a dynamic medical-devices manufacturing center. 

Veronesi is an example of an anchor-entrepreneur, who performs a generative role across multiple phases and processes to ignite economic change. A single anchor may exercise multiplier effects on regional development and business formation and thereby thrust the industry into the limelight. This anchor-entrepreneurship evolution follows three phases:

  • Genesis -- the moment when the anchor conceives and formulates an idea calling for economic action. But lacking the requisite inputs and resources to realize it, the entrepreneur engages in what's known as bricolage; what the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss identified as “making do with what's on hand.”
  • Expansion -- the transition from individual-level learning to organizational-level outcomes. Here simple entrepreneurial best practices that are pioneered by the anchor-entrepreneur are assimilated by early team members, instigating organizational reproduction and growth. 
  • Attraction -- beaconing is the underlying generative process that occurs once anchors reap exceptional and salient rewards observed by other entrepreneurs and resource-holders. Beaconing also stimulates copying, especially within geographic regions, where network effects increase the likelihood that others will emulate the anchor.

Placing the anchor-entrepreneur at the center stage advances understanding of early industry evolution, spelling out how first-mover pioneers shape the environment to establish the first markets needed to attract new resources and capabilities.

There are many other examples of such entrepreneurs spearheading entirely new industries across many different domains. Lowell Wakefeld began the Alaska king crab industry.  Daesh Garment jump-started the Bangladesh garment industry against unfavorable conditions. And Revra DePuy kicked off the orthopedic-device industry in Warsaw, Indiana in the late 19th century where it still flourishes today. 

Read the full study HERE

Feature Charticle

 

Three Stages of the Anchor Entrepreneurship

Research Policy

Findings:

  • A Schumpeterian entrepreneur like Mario Veronesi can transform a given geography into a business hub by establishing primal markets in labor, material inputs and services.
  • Placing the anchor-entrepreneur at the center stage advances understanding of early industry evolution.
  • This anchor-entrepreneurship evolution follows three phases:
    • Genesis - the moment when the anchor conceives and formulates an idea calling for economic action.
    • Expansion -- the transition from individual-level learning to organizational-level outcomes. 
    • Attraction -- the copying of the anchor-entrepreneur, especially within geographic regions, where network effects increase the likelihood that others will emulate.

Read the full study HERE