The role of open innovation intermediaries in initiating and coaching new types of firm- innovation lab collaborations: Findings from an exploratory study of a mediated knowledge creation process for collaborative innovation projects in Austria and Italy.

Veronika Hornung-Prähauser, Diana Wieden-Bischof (2020): The role of open innovation intermediaries in initiating and coaching new types of firm- innovation lab collaborations: Findings from an exploratory study of a mediated knowledge creation process for collaborative innovation projects in Austria and Italy. In: R&D Management Symposium 2020:Invention to Innovation: Creating the Conditions for Impact, hosted from Simon Fraser University 4-5th August 2020 Vancouver, USA

This paper deals with the newly emerging phenomenon of open collaboration between firms and digital innovation labs1 pursuing joint innovation projects. It describes the different roles and especially the mediating role of open innovation intermediaries in initiating and coaching such new types of firm-innovation lab collaborations. On the background of the interactive coupled open collaboration approach (ICOC) between firms and innovation labs by Piller & West (2014) we examine the relevance of the traditional four dimensions of an ICOC (external actors, coupling topology, impetus for collaboration and locus) when cooperating with digital fabrication labs and open accessible makerspaces. The contribution highlights specific findings from an applied research study carried through in Austria and Italy during 2017-2019, in which 20 small and medium-sized companies (SME) and innovation labs jointly worked on innovation projects in the physical space of a digital fabrication labs or makerspace. Results show that all of these collaborations were initiated by innovation challenges as impetus and 50% of the work in the innovation projects took place physically in the locus of a makerspace. In all collaborations, new relations to external actors in the regional innovation system and global maker-world were established. The role of the intermediaries varied between initiating the cooperation and coaching the innovation process.

Keywords: interactive coupled open innovation process; innovation intermediaries; digital fabrication labs, makerspaces, innovation eco-system, interorganisational knowledge management, innovation collaboration.

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