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Leveraging the Innovation Ecosystem for business advantage: a cross-border study

Published: December 2012


The impetus for this study is the recognition that open systems of innovation offer innovative enterprises the potential to externally source and connect with a wider variety of relevant expertise. The benefits of an open approach to innovation are improvements in the capability and capacity to:
  • Access new technologies, know-how, intellectual property and ideas from external sources;
  • Integrate and exploit these external elements into innovative new product, process and service developments;
  • Collaborate on innovation with suppliers, customers, industry networks and competitors; and
  • License-out to gain value from ideas and technologies that do not fit the core strategy of the company.

Leading to: [1]

  • Faster development and market launch of new products and services;
  • More diversity brought to innovation resulting in identification of more opportunities for growth; and
  • Improved success rate of new products and services by making the innovation process stronger.

Given the close geographic proximity and the complementary support systems cross-border cooperation on the island is intrinsic to such an open system and brings the additional benefits of a more efficient and effective use of resources to the mutual benefit of firms in both jurisdictions.

InterTradeIreland’s vision of the ecosystem is one that places the firm at the centre and ensures that the resources, be they financial, technical or otherwise, are readily available and accessible to businesses, no matter in which jurisdiction they are located, so that creative ideas are commercialised more effectively and efficiently.

In line with this view of the innovation ecosystem, (see Figure 1 on page 5 of the report), InterTradeIreland supports the development of an open innovation system working across Ireland and Northern Ireland with programmes such as FUSION, Innova, Challenge, Equity Network and the All-Island innovation Programme. These facilitate greater connections and collaborations across both jurisdictions to assist with the generation, development and commercialisation of business ideas.

This report presents the results of a study to identify the broad characteristics, opportunities and barriers to a well-connected innovation ecosystem covering Ireland and Northern Ireland from the point of view of the firm. Identifying the innovation ecosystem entailed:
  • Understanding and mapping how firms leverage external connections within local, cross-border and international contexts in order to drive innovation;
  • Understanding and measuring the internal practices and capabilities of firms to manage innovation; and
  • Understanding how the local and cross-border innovation systems respond to the needs of firms.


[1] M.M. Keupp and O. Grassmann, Determinants and Archtype Users of Open Innovation, R&D Management, 30/4 (2009), pp. 331, 341