A canvas to design and activate
Open Innovation Challenges
connecting SMEs - Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with problem solvers such as startups, researchers, students and citizens.

The project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 804454



INNOCHALLENGE is a European Project that aims at improving the capacity of Innovation Agencies to design and implement open innovation initiatives such as hackathons, prizes, and innovation contests for the benefit of SMEs. INNOCHALLENGE collected good practices, organized peer-learning workshops, and produced an Actionable Guide that is now available to all European Innovation Agencies, policy makers, SMEs and interested stakeholders to learn how to activate Open Innovation contests for SMEs.



Examples of effective innovation contests already activated by innovation agencies to support Open Innovation in SMEs across Europe.

Peer learning workshops dedicated to EU Innovation Agencies wishing to design and implement new and effective Open Innovation initiatives for SMEs.

An actionable short guide to design and implement new innovation contests supporting SMEs in achieving Open Innovation along with researchers, students and other companies.



INNOCHALLENGE makes available a collection of factsheets describing innovation contests and hackathon-alike initiatives that have proven to support SMEs in pursuing Open Innovation. If you are an Innovation Agency you might want to activate one of these. Each factsheet follows a template, and comes with suggestions for implementation. Do not hesitate in contacting the reference persons to know more about how to implement these initiatives!


User Experience of digital products and Service Design


Mechanical Optimization and Additive Manufacturing

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Trialing allows MLEs to test consumer solution prototypes with technology partners


B2B rapid ideation allowing large companies to source ideas involving SMEs


Business Ideation through the

co-creation between companies and end users


industrial SMEs in taking advantage of design principles

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Searching new digital services concepts and business models based on their existing physical products


A student project course where students solve industrial problems


Annual event with the aim of fostering the links between phycicists and industry

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A 48 hours design thinking hackathon 

for entrepreneurial students and companies


Searching new technological solutions to concrete needs expressed by companies

Download the template that we have used to collect information about good practices of Innovation Challenges.




INNOCHALLENGE organized peer learning 1-day workshops in three EU Countries aiming at training professionals from Innovation Agencies, tech transfer offices, and companies’ R&D departments on how to implement Open Innovation support initiatives for SME. During workshops, examples of flagship initiatives supporting Open Innovation in SMEs will be discussed. Goal of workshops is to enable participants to know all about how to activate similar initiatives.

17 OCTOBER 2018
28 NOVEMBER 2018
11 DECEMBER 2018


Inside the Guide you will find:
1) a canvas to design Open Innovation contests for SMEs
2) tips from experts on how to manage a successful contest
3) a collection of examples of already available contests
Please leave us your email to get access to the full INNOCHALLENGE guide:
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The Innovation Challenge Design Canvas is at the core of our Guide. It helps you in understanding all the twelve building blocks of an innovation contest: what's the overall purpose of your contest? What challenge do you want to tackle? Who will be the solvers? What incentives will you make available? What results will it deliver? Etc.
Don't forget to download the Guide to learn how to use the canvas!



"Not all smart people work for you”

(H. Chesbrough)

Open Innovation means searching and finding crucial ideas and solutions to technological and business problems by tapping into communities and individuals residing outside of the boundary of your organization. The road to pursuing Open Innovation is however paved with risks due to lack of standardized processes and methodologies, difficulty in outreaching and selecting the right partners, and managing critical legal aspects such as intellectual rights protection - just to mention some. Companies, especially SMEs Enterprises, crave for support especially during the first steps of this journey.

INNOCHALLENGE aims at empowering Innovation Agencies with practical tools and proven know-how to better support SMEs in kick-starting Open Innovation paths.



Inducement prizes (a.k.a. contests, or challenges) are initiatives enabling Open Innovation by mean of outsourcing / crowdsourcing valuable R&D input (ideas, solutions) in a competitive setting. Challenges have been run since the 18th century by governmental agencies and large institutions to find the best solution to technical problems impacting on society at large (e.g. how to reliably calculate the longitude). Nowadays, challenges are casted by private companies over Open Innovation intermediaries having the role of brokering the source of viable business solutions (at whatever level: scientific, technological, technical, product…).

INNOCHALLENGE aims at empowering Innovation Agencies to act as Open Innovation intermediaries to make it possible for SMEs to engage in Open Innovation.



HIT - Hub Innovazione Trentino is a corporate consortium for advanced technology transfer and innovation, fostering local business innovation and development through research and new technologies.

BusinessOulu supports you and your company in all stages: from starting the company to generating growth and creating international opportunities.

Estonia's top centre for technical education. A networking environment where businesses, students, professors, schoolchildren and investors meet to generate new ideas and innovation together.




10 September 2019

INNOCHALLENGE chosen as project of the month by EASME - The Executive Agency for the Small and Medium Enterprises of the European Commission.




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