Certain technologies have the potential to spawn an entrepreneurial ecosystem, but this potential is not always realized. Some of these technologies that could enable prosperous and sustainable ecosystems struggle at the threshold of ecosystem emergence. In this paper, we use an in-depth case study of an emergent entrepreneurial ecosystem based on an enabling technology—synthetic biology—to identify the structural, societal, and ethical barriers to ecosystem growth. The structural barriers mainly relate to the lack of an ecosystem framework to manage intellectual property in complex interactions. The societal barriers concern the clock speed conflict between parts of the quintuple helix entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the ethical barriers arise from the widespread impact of enabling technologies in combination with the diffusion of ethical responsibility throughout the ecosystem. We also discuss both the theoretical and managerial implications of these barriers.