Most small firms face enduring challenges to sustain their profitability. Various factors, including changing market conditions or new regulations force them to adapt or reinvent their business through new technologies or unique value propositions. As more and more small companies now rely on open innovation, there is growing need to study how open innovation is managed and organised in those firms. Managing open innovation in small companies is actually quite specific, and the lessons learned from open innovation in large firms are not readily transferable to the context of SMEs. The current research on open innovation in small firms is still very limited and has not yet studied the creative uses of open innovation in those companies.
At the same time, Wim Vanhaverbeke observes that many small firm managers experience considerable problems in managing relationships with open innovation partners. Therefore, there is a growing demand for a systematic examination of successful open innovation practices in small firms.