Social and Spatial Precursors to Innovation: The Diversity Advantage of the Creative Fringe


  • Ana Bilandzic Queensland University of Technology
  • Dario Casadevall Ludwig Maximilian University
  • Marcus Foth Queensland University of Technology
  • Greg Hearn Queensland University of Technology



Innovation spaces and hubs are increasing in numbers internationally. Entrepreneurs and start-up founders who use these spaces and hubs are often unaware of being inside an echo chamber, i.e. a filter bubble they share with only like-minded people who have similar ideas and approaches to innovation. Digital technologies that use algorithms can aggravate these echo chambers by filtering towards improved personalised experience and preferences. Yet, social inclusion fosters diverse ideas and creativity, hence, has a positive impact on innovation. We studied the social navigation patterns of entrepreneurs and start-up founders, and their awareness and opinion about homogeneity in innovation spaces. This data informed the design of a tool to escape their echo chambers. The tool gives its users the opportunity to discover networks and innovation spaces that are at the creative fringe, that is, marginalised from mainstream spaces and hubs for creativity and innovation. Our findings show that users of innovation spaces often find themselves surrounded by like-minded people. Further, our study participants welcomed the ability to identify fringe spaces in order to discover and access more diverse people and ideas. Our approach seeks to unlock the diversity advantage of the creative fringe for the purpose of creativity and innovation.






Special Issue: Designing Participation for the Digital Fringe