For innovation to spur the economy there must be an ongoing exchange of knowledge in the field that drives excellence. The EU-funded project 'European Virtual Center for Innovation Excellence Assessment' (VIVA) enabled high-level exchanges of ideas, findings and strategies on innovation through an online platform. This has enabled businesses to better manage innovation and increase competitiveness, making them more sustainable in the long run. The project's enterprising website, called VIVA, featured novel tools and techniques to improve innovation. Businesses can select from the tools and strategies that best fit with their sector and style to help encourage and manage innovation. The 53 tools developed address specific challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) related to innovation management, incorporating cutting-edge research findings to ensure maximum benefit. These tools, advantages and guidelines were communicated to the public in a variety of ways, ensuring that stakeholders are aware of the project's results. In more specific terms, the project aimed to evaluate and advance innovation excellence of SMEs in addition to enhancing knowledge exchange related to different innovation initiatives. It also mapped paths and trends in innovation excellence, particularly in the field of mechatronics and high-tech manufacturing equipment. To achieve its aims, VIVA assigned different interest groups to tackle innovation-related topics from various perspectives. The topics involved management of innovation, assessment of innovation excellence, innovation culture and innovation in clusters. Subsequently, the project produced a reference model for innovation management based on theory, case studies, reference processes and feedback from experts. Overall, the new online community and platform will help share the latest developments in innovation excellence by enhancing networking among public institutions, associations, industry stakeholders and research organisations. Indeed, European industry could stand to benefit significantly and upgrade its production based on the results, tools and findings of the project.