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Over the recent years, the importance of innovation in academic R&D projects has increased. Nevertheless, innovation facilitation in the academic field has rarely been researched. Currently, innovation support focuses on the industrial context. In our study we aim to address this research gap and examine the facilitation of innovation in the academic and the industrial context. In our abductive empirical case study, we investigate the role, skills, mindset and instruments of innovation facilitators by interviewing 25 individuals from nine organizations. We discovered different behaviors and perspectives in dealing with innovation work, depending on the context of the either academic or industry-driven projects. Academic innovation projects focus on feasibility, whereas industry-driven projects focus on viability. In both contexts, the facilitators usually intend to include the user perspective (desirability). With our results we contribute to the facilitation literature and show that innovation projects and their facilitation depend on their specific context and the mentality of the facilitators. With these results, we strive to improve academic and industry-driven projects with advice for innovation practitioners and facilitators on helpful tools and important perspectives to fully exploit the innovation potential.
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