South Tyrol has many successful but small craft producers. Handcraft with more than 43,000 persons employed, over 13,000 producers, and 3,500 contracts of apprenticeships makes a valuable contribution to the wealth and employment in South Tyrol. Craftsmen organize themselves in the Regional Association for Craftsmen (LVH), covering the sectors of food, construction, wood, installation and facility, personal care and services, handcrafts, media, design and IT, metal, textile and transportation.
In contempt of rapid decision-making processes, flat hierarchies and a high degree of flexibility, small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular often face the challenge of establishing sustainable innovation processes. Everyday business demands the full attention of employees and all too often, there is little or no space and resources for the development of new ideas, work on prototypes, or the conception of marketing or market launch strategies. Difficulties in accessing funding is another constraint to the growth and development of SMEs. While successful innovation raises the chances of SMEs’ survival by 22%, it is essential for SMEs to overcome the “liability of smallness” restricting their ability to innovate successfully.
Despite anecdotal and empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the open innovation activities of large firms, these concepts cannot be simply transferred to micro, small and medium enterprises. SMEs are clearly different from larger firms with respect to how they innovate and consequently how they can apply open innovation approaches to benefit innovation outcomes. Further, new ventures and projects require the resources to succeed, and one of the main constrains is funding, which is not provided by family, friends or own savings.
Aware of the problems described above, the LVH aimed at overcoming these competitive disadvantages and developed a basis for collaborative innovation and sources of funding for SMEs. The LVH collaborated in partnership with HYVE and the University of Innsbruck to design an open innovation platform to integrate external ideas, solutions, products and technologies. In addition, the platform was extended with a crowdfunding solution in order to access alternative sources for funding to support SMEs along the innovation process.
Katja Hutter is Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Innsbruck School of Management, Associate in the Crowd Innovation Lab (CIL)/NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) and senior research associate at HYVE – the innovation company.
Her research examines the transformation of innovation processes to the edges of organizations into innovation labs, collaboration with start-ups or communities. She investigates incentive schemes and consumer interaction behavior facilitated by new technologies to generate insights for new products, services, or business models that revolve around customers and their needs. Further she is interested in the digital transformation of companies and industries.
Her research has been published in leading academic journals such as Journal of Interactive Marketing, Long Range Planning, Journal of Management Information Systems or Creativity and Innovation Management and honored with rewards. Together with her co-authors she received the Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger Best Paper Award 2011 in the Journal Creativity and Innovation Management, the Best Paper Award 2015 in the Journal of Interactive Marketing and the Harvard Business School Case with the topic “Open Innovation at Siemens” was honored with the Case Centre Awards and Competitions in 2015.
2012 Prof. Dr. Johann Füller took office at the University of Innsbruck’s faculty for Business Administration, where he holds the recently founded chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism. Since his habilitation on „Communities as a Source of Innovation – Towards a Theory of Innovation and Virtual Co-Creation Communities. Innovation 2.0 – From Fortified Castles to Open Bazars” he has been a senior lecturer of Marketing at the Innsbruck University School of Management.
He is Fellow at the NASA Tournament Lab-Research at Harvard University and CEO of Hyve AG, an innovation and community company. In line with his research focus, he regularly gives guest lectures about co-creation, online branding, creative consumer behavior, online marketing, open innovation, and the utilization of online communities.
Kathrin Pichler is a project manager at LVH, the Association for Tradespeople and Service Providers in Germany.
Niclas Köger is an innovation consultant at HYVE - the Innovation Company.
Dr. Sandra Lemmer is an author of multiple innovation related articles and the Executive Assistant for Professor Johann Füller at HYVE.