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Innovation hubs are popping up from Addis to Amsterdam and Boston to Bangalore.

Fuelled by ideals of openness, community and collaboration, hubs aim to be the next orgware for innovation—beyond business incubators and R&D labs.

Managers, policymakers and investors have taken note, but are grappling with how to engage.

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The organisation defines itself: as “part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community centre” (impacthub.net).

However, while innovation hubs incorporate functional elements of all of these, they also appear unique and new in the way that they combine tried-and-true methods with networking and community-based ideas.

In an informal group of researchers gathered by Tuukka Toivonen, we wanted to characterise the innovation hub term more closely, and set out the fundamental hypothetical parameters of the “hub organisation”.

Innovation hubs offer varying combinations of services and follow a variety of business and sustainability models (Friederici, 2014).

Mostly, members get access to co-working and desk space, office infrastructure, events, and the hub’s contact network (often in exchange for a recurring fee).

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