Conference paper Open Access

Open innovation programmes related to data & AI: how do the entrepreneurial orientations of startups align with the objectives of public funders?

Maria Priestley; Elena Simperl

Open innovation programmes related to data and AI have interested European policy-makers as a means of supporting startups and SMEs to succeed in the digital economy. We discuss the objectives behind the typical service offerings of such programmes, and propose a case for exploring how they align with the motivations of individual companies who are targeted by these initiatives. Using a qualitative analysis of 50 startup applications from the Data Market Services (DMS) Accelerator programme, we find that applicants wrote most frequently about fundraising, acceleration and data skills. A smaller number of startups expressed interest in services related to standardisation or legal guidance on GDPR and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which are some of the ongoing priority areas for the European Commission. We discuss how the value propositions of these less desired offerings can be amplified by appealing the existing business motivations of data-driven startups.

The current design of open innovation programmes in Europe has been informed by economic needs identified at the collective and regional levels. This orientation can pose a challenge to securing engagement from individual startups and SMEs, whose personal business goals may differ from those of the collective ecosystem. Demand-side insights into the self-perceived needs of companies can help to design interventions that are more likely to interest them and make an impact on their business practices.
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