Open innovation is proved to be determinant in the rationalization of sustainable innovation ecosystems. Firms, universities, governments, user communities and the overall environment are called to contribute to this dynamic process. This study aims to contribute to a better understanding of the impact of open innovation on firms’ performance and to empirically assess whether university-industry collaborations are complementary or substitutes for this activity. Primary data were collected from a survey encompassing 908 firms, and then combined with performance indicators from SABI (Spanish and Portuguese business information). Econometric estimations were run to evaluate the role of open innovation and university-industry collaboration in the firm innovative propensity and performance. Results highlight the importance of diversity in collaborations with the academia and inbound open innovation strategy as enhancers of firm performance. The two activities reinforce each other. By testing the impact of open innovation practices on company performance, the need for heterogeneity in terms of contact type and university is also demonstrated. Findings cast light on the need to reformulate existing policy packages, reinforcing the ties with academia as well as the promotion of open innovation strategies. The connection to the innovation ecosystem needs to be further encouraged as well as the promotion of persistent connections with the knowledge sources in an open and multilateral framework.
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