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Measuring open innovation inputs and outputs in SMEs

Specific challenge: Innovation occurs more and more frequently in global networks. From a policymaker’s point of view this requires the development of internationally comparable indicators to better understand the concept of open innovation and its implications for innovation policy. R&D-intensive firms are increasingly reluctant to increase R&D spending, but rather seek to rationalize the process by bringing in new partners or spinning out research projects. Traditional innovation measures fail to spot these tendencies. Currently available open innovation data is also insufficient to support business operations. There is little hard evidence, based on large-scale databases, about research projects or other innovation activities where open innovation may play a crucial role. From the points of view of a policymaker, detailed and comprehensive data would allow drawing conclusions regarding the inputs into and generated outputs of open innovation to guide policy development.

Scope: The project will develop methodologies to gather, measure and analyse data on open innovation. Subsequently the project will carry out practical testing of methodologies and indicators to describe the importance and characteristics of open innovation across countries, industrial sectors, firm size and then develop recommendations for their further use. Specifically the activity will comprise the following elements:

- Stocktaking of available open innovation indicators, indices and methodologies (in particular those developed by the European Commission, OECD or private data). Assessment of their relevance and effectiveness for use as measures of innovation activities and innovation performance in SMEs, taking into consideration intensity and quality of collaboration.

- Development of quantitative tools to present evidence and impact of open-innovation in SMEs. Open innovation studies are dominated by qualitative approaches, drawing heavily on in-depth interviews and case-studies. In order to move beyond qualitative and incidental evidence, empirical measure should be developed and validated to test the relationship between business performance and open innovation in larger samples of firms.

- Identification of policy conditions to make open innovation a reality in SMEs. The erosion of the closed innovation system has also resulted in a larger role for SMEs in the industrial innovation system. Development of public policy guidelines that are in line with the open innovation paradigm, i.e. education and human capital development, transition of funding models towards open innovation systems, competition policy, industrial policy.

The duration of this action will be one year.

Expected impact:

·         Broadening of available innovation indicators from input/ output measures to indicators that combine the quality and intensity (i.e. number of collaborative deals divided by number of employees) of the innovation cooperation.

·         The activity will gather evidence base for the impact of open innovation in an SME context.

·         By moving from incidental evidence to time series data a convincing case for open innovation will be verified.

Type of action: Coordination and support action