While innovation contests and intermediaries are widely used in large companies to source knowledge from the outside, it is not clear how contests could be utilized to break the barriers that SMEs face in pursuing Open Innovation. In this paper, we shed light on the topic by analysing ten innovation contests that have been successfully run in three European countries with the specific aim to create innovation opportunities between SMEs and higher education institutions, research centres, other companies, or end users. The analysis resulted in the identification of common elements that played a crucial role in these innovation contests, but were overlooked in previous research. Moreover, we collected early evidence supporting the case for innovation contests as tools to support Open Innovation policies for SMEs. On that basis, we propose a new framework that can be used by innovation intermediaries to design innovation contests specifically aiming at supporting Open Innovation in SMEs.
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