GIS and Entrepreneurs

Mark Altaweel


Today’s entrepreneurial culture is pervasive in areas such as information technology (IT).

GIS has been used to help entrepreneurship education, where multifactor analysis shows where given subjects and educational resources are spent and where entrepreneurs come from. This has helped with policy for governments as they decide how to invest in education.[1] 

Despite clear evidence that entrepreneurship success is often driven by important spatial patterns, particularly in relation to labor concentration, knowledge, and investment opportunities, many business investors have not utilized spatial approaches to making decisions on where to invest.

A study in 2010 highlighted this problem, where spatial autocorrelation using Moran’s I showed which factors are more likely to be useful for entrepreneurs and their investors.[2]

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Rather than only economic factors, entrepreneurial companies have realized attracting talent requires several important factors that include the livability of a place, surrounding infrastructure, the area’s labor market, and general culture.

This was applied in a study supporting Think London, an organization devoted to investing in entrepreneurial companies, as a way to determine the best places to invest. Workforce patterns and industry trends, including social factors of regions, were applied using spatial analysis.

Using multivariate statistics, researcher determined which factors are more likely to have benefit for investors and for attracting further investment.[3]

A density surface for employment data for pharmaceutical manufacturing overlaid with key competitors in the sector. Source: Weber & Chapman, 2009.
A density surface for employment data for pharmaceutical manufacturing overlaid with key competitors in the sector. Source: Weber & Chapman, 2009.

As a response to greater awareness of spatial factors in affecting entrepreneurial activity, cloud-based sharing applications have created that are utilized by investment stakeholders and entrepreneurs as a way to facilitate greater knowledge of different environments for start up companies.

One application uses real-time or near real-time data and was applied in Częstochowa in Poland, where information technology entrepreneurs are shown to benefit from applying analyses not only on factors that benefit investment but also factors that show where or how regions are likely to develop based on growth or current investment, showing where future attractive areas for entrepreneurs might be found. [4]


[1] For more on entrepreneurship and education used along with GIS analysis, see: Stough, Roger R. 2003. “Strategic Management of Places and Policy.” The Annals of Regional Science 37 (2): 179–201. doi:10.1007/s001680300149.

[2] For more on entrepreneurship and spatial relationships, see:  Plummer, L. A. 2010. “Spatial Dependence in Entrepreneurship Research: Challenges and Methods.” Organizational Research Methods 13 (1): 146–75. doi:10.1177/1094428109334199.

[3] For more on the study done for Think London on spatial factors in relation to entrepreneurial activities, see: Weber, Patrick, and Dave Chapman. 2009. “Investing in Geography: A GIS to Support Inward Investment.” Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 33 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2008.11.001.

[4] For more on the cloud-based application using updated GIS data for entrepreneurial investment, see: Jelonek, Dorota, Ilona Pawełoszek, Cezary Stępniak, and Tomasz Turek. 2015. “Spatial Tools for Supporting Regional E-Entrepreneurship.” Procedia Computer Science 65: 988–95. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2015.09.061.


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About the author
Mark Altaweel
Mark Altaweel is a Reader in Near Eastern Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, having held previous appointments and joint appointments at the University of Chicago, University of Alaska, and Argonne National Laboratory. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Masters and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.