Digital and Open Innovation project


The digital transformation has changed the way economies work and innovation is organised. The OECD project ‘Digital and Open Innovation’ investigates whether and, if so, how digital transformation changes the rationales for innovation policy as well as the most appropriate instruments to foster vibrant innovation ecosystems.

To identify practical policy implications, the project reviews changing innovation dynamics across sectors and different actors, including SMEs, start-ups and research institutions. It sets specific focus on new forms of collaboration. 

The 2017-18 project is conducted under the auspices of the Working Party on Innovation and Technology Policy (TIP) and the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP).

The project in short (PDF)

Latest news







Launch of the project final report in London

Digital Catapult Centre

10-12 April 2019

Find all information at:

Project activities (public release of final report by early 2019)

Innovation policy for the digital age

Most innovations today are new products and processes enabled by digital technologies or embodied in data and software. Digital technologies are also transforming innovation processes (from the research, to the development and commercialisation stages) and facilitating collaborative innovation practices. 

In view of these changes and emerging opportunities and challenges for different actors, this project evaluates how policy support to innovation should adapt and in what directions. Eight guiding principles for changes to innovation policy identified are as follows:

  1. Develop data access policies 
  2. Ensure rapid & agile policy responsiveness, and encourage policy experimentation
  3. Revise the suitability of traditional research & innovation support instruments 
  4. Support core technology development
  5. Support competition & the long tail of firms, regions and individuals
  6. Foster interactive & collective innovation
  7. Optimise the efficiency of public research in the digital age
  8. Set national policies in view of global markets

These guiding principles and specific policy recommendations build on two project pillars: (1) a policy collection and analysis exercise to explore new trends in innovation policy making; and (2) a sectoral analysis that investigates the impacts of digital transformation on innovation across sectors.

(1) What are the features of new innovation policies adopted by countries?

Most countries have already developed specific innovation policy initiatives to ensure a successful transition to a digital economy. These often aim at enhancing digital technology diffusion and adoption; promoting innovative entrepreneurship in the digital era; and/or fostering research and innovation in key digital sectors and technologies. 

This project conducts an extensive policy collection and analysis exercise aimed at identifying new innovation policy approaches, including those of more novel and experimental nature. Selected country policy case studies provide in-depth insights on initiatives that stand out in for example how they promote firm’s experimentation with digital technologies in demonstration facilities and testbeds (e.g. SME 4.0 Competence Centres in Germany, Smart Industry Field labs in the Netherlands, Digital Catapult in the UK). The resulting policy toolkit is intended to support innovation policy makers tasked with reforming innovation policies to address the challenges of the digital age.

(2) How does digital transformation affect the ways different sectors innovate?

Digital transformation is a multifaceted phenomenon that is impacting innovation across all sectors of the economy. New digital technologies are not only leading to new product and process innovations, but also transforming innovation practices within and across firms. Opportunities for open innovation practices are also expanding.  However, differences in impacts across and within sectors and countries are often important. Understanding those different experiences is key to design appropriate innovation policies to foster vibrant innovation ecosystems.

The project reviews how digital transformation is affecting different dimensions of innovation (i.e. products, production processes, innovation practices) across sectors and in particular the agri-food, automotive and retail, with a focus on identifying commonalities and differences in impacts across sectors and different actors (e.g. start-ups, SMEs, large firms). 


Recent events


Workshop: "Digital Health Innovations"

The Hague and Eindhoven, 11-13 April 2018


Organised jointly by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the OECD

Summary of discussions (NEW!)

Project scope

Related OECD projects

Assessing the impacts of knowledge transfer and policy

This ongoing TIP project focuses on two inter-related themes regarding the transfer of knowledge between industry and science and its impacts:

  • Assessing the impacts of research institutions on innovation performance;
  • Policy instruments and mixes for spin-off creation.

Access the project's website 

The second phase of the project focused on the following priority themes: 

  • The impacts of digital innovation on market structures and distribution of income
  • The contribution of digital products and services to social inclusion
  • The distribution of innovation capacities across regions within countries
  • The role inclusive innovation policies can play in tackling inclusiveness challenges

  Access the project's website

Relevant OECD reports

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