In search of excellence - Innovation contests to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Portugal
Numerous initiatives of different nature have taken place in Portugal over the recent years aiming at raising consciousness of the importance and advantages of innovation and entrepreneurship, persuading businesspeople to place innovation as strategic intent and encouraging would-be entrepreneurs to come forward with novel businesses ideas. Innovation contests are but one of such initiatives. From sporadic events before 2000, the phenomenon gained unprecedented dimension and growing sophistication at several levels, including the number of innovation contests launched annually, number and kind of organizations involved, volume and kind of prizes and support in business plan construction. Today, this is a popular means that a range of different organizations use to uncovering novel business ideas and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Based on a large data base purposefully built for this research by the author, this paper aims to describe the phenomenon of innovation contests in Portugal and characterize its evolution over the period 2000-2008. Findings show a general use of contests as instruments to promote and prize innovation across a range of target audiences going from high school students to established businesses; an increasing trend in the number of innovation contests launched annually in Portugal; high rates of rotation of the innovation contests launched annually over the period under analysis; a growing diversification in the type of promoters which is particularly clear from 2004 onwards; and that private firms, higher education institutions and business associations appear to be gaining a prominent role as promoters of innovation contests.
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