UNDERSTAND | June 9, 2017

Mapping Connections Flourishes Across City Ecosystems

Photo Credit: Mexico City visualization

GERN’s Ecosystem Connections Mapping Project continues to grow its database of connections among key actors within startup ecosystems around the world.

The datasets that underlie each city’s analyses and respective maps are licensed to GERN, and are available to members (for non-profit purposes) upon request. The main developments on the methodology and data front are:

While the original focus was tech ecosystems, methodology iterations by partners have enabled the mapping of relational data in other sectors, such as biotech and restaurants. For example, the World Bank added new dimensions to the methodology (see, Boosting Tech Ecosystems in Cities by Victor Mulas, et. al.). New temporal questions to the standard set include: the time it took to establish a startup; and the time it took to obtain a loan from a bank; and the time it took to obtain investments from an angel and institutional investor.

Via partnerships with GERN members and other funders, the project lead, Endeavor Insight, has rolled out new visualizations of the multiplier effect across cities and industries. These are, in chronological order of release to the public:

  1. The New York City Map offers a visualization of the rapid growth of tech companies – defined as those developing information technology or those whose businesses are Internet-enabled, excluding financial tech, green tech, and life sciences companies.
  2. The Cairo Map reflects a comprehensive survey of the Cairo tech sector (developed with support from Mercy Corps Egypt).
  3. The Bogota Map revealed over 300 personal and professional relationships among local tech entrepreneurs, classified as one of five types – inspiration, mentorship, former employment, investment, or serial entrepreneurship. This map was developed in partnership with the Omidyar Network and Endeavor Colombia.
  4. The first Mexico City Map and its related analysis offer insights into local links among actors in the tech space, in partnership with Endeavor Mexico.
  5. The Medellin Map focuses on the tech sector. Partners for this project included the World Bank, Ruta N, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and the IADB’s Multilateral Investment Fund.
  6. The Buenos Aires Map reflects the relationships of biotech sector founders and companies in the city. Partner for mapping this city was Endeavor Insight.
  7. The Santiago Map focuses on the city’s tech sector. The partner for this project was Endeavor Insight.
  8. The  second Mexico City Map features connections related to the rise in “fast food” and “fast casual” restaurants in the capital. The partner was Endeavor Insight.


What’s ahead?

Research, data collection, and analysis to develop maps is currently being conducted for the following cities, grouped by region:


  1. Nairobi (Kenya) map of the software and fintech sectors, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  2. Kampala (Uganda) map of the software and fintech sectors, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  3. Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) map of the software and fintech sectors, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  4. Lagos (Nigeria) map of the software and fintech sectors, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  5. Johannesburg (South Africa) map of the software and fintech sectors. The partner for the mapping of this city’s sectors are Endeavor South Africa and the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS).
  6. Mombasa (Kenya) will also be included among maps to be released, with research support from the World Bank.


  1. Cali (Colombia): the World Bank has completed the research phase, and analysis currently in the hands of the Colombian government.
  2. Sao Paulo (Brazil) map of tech sector, with research support from Endeavor Insight.
  3. Toronto (Canada): MaRS Data Catalyst has completed the survey phase and is currently analyzing the data.

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange ideas… About the author