Rapid Open Innovation creates a cross-border network for innovation

Through a networking platform and working labs, the Rapid Open Innovation (Rapid OI) project improves the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in eco-building, wood and mechanics in the Austrian-Italian border region.

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Rapid Open Innovation aims to improve the competitiveness of SMEs active in the field of eco-building, woodworking and mechanics in the Italian-Austrian border region. Rapid Open Innovation aims to improve the competitiveness of SMEs active in the field of eco-building, woodworking and mechanics in the Italian-Austrian border region.

" As a first main result, SMEs’ innovation needs have been identified. This preparation was crucial for developing the Open Innovation platform, which hosts services made available by the partners, know-how, and materials, and offers the possibility to share and exchange experiences and knowledge. "

Elena Zanatta, project coordinator

The increased exchange of know-how between enterprises and research institutions on both sides of the border allows Italian SMEs to benefit from Austria’s higher research and innovation capacities, thereby creating synergies. The time necessary to develop and market a product (“time-to-market”) has been reduced significantly, while the quality of new products is continuously improving.

Open Innovation as a tool for increasing competitiveness

More than 100 enterprises are set to benefit directly from the project activities through their participation in Open Innovation Working Labs (OIWLs) – introductory workshops that identify existing problems and explain how to use the available open innovation tools –, coaching sessions, and audits. Five groups of companies that are particularly open to innovation teamed up with experienced consultants, establishing strong contacts with cross-border research institutions. Over 50 public and private research and innovation service centres are also part of the project, transmitting their know-how and increasing their ability to work in networks.

“Open Innovation” builds on the existence of a network of partners who can pool their knowledge in order to strengthen their respective innovation capabilities. Strategic exchanges allow each of the enterprises, mostly SMEs, to identify hurdles for innovation in their processes, and reduce these through adopting best practices. They can also make use of the business support services offered as part of the Rapid OI platform. 

Innovative structures for the future

Local OIWLs are currently taking place in Treviso and Belluno (Veneto Region, Italy), Bozen (Italy), Salzburg and Innsbruck (Austria). The effectiveness of the Open Innovation platform is tested in a piloting phase in order to identify further areas of improvement of the Open Innovation tools. It is hoped that these measures will contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in a durable and sustainable manner. 

The project has contributed to improve economics flows in the region, and is expected to encourage similar cooperation initiatives in the near future. Over 10 000 stakeholders have been briefed on the project’s results and potential. 

Some 150 jobs will be created during project implementation and 50 expected to be created once the project has been fully implemented.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Rapid Open Innovation – speeding time to market” is EUR 717 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 434 100 through the “Italy-Austria” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


Draft date

05/01/2016