The Protection of Innovations by SMEs – The Role of Motives and Determinants in Choosing Innovation Protection Strategies to Achieve an Effective Innovation Protection

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Although SMEs are essential for economic growth and innovation, the number of studies that address intellectual property management, innovation protection and appropriability in the context of SMEs is, compared to large international enterprises, limited. To corroborate existing studies on these topics and to deepen our knowledge in this regard, in this Master’s Thesis it has been researched how motives and determinants affect SMEs’ preferences for formal/informal innovation protection strategies to achieve an effective innovation protection by adopting a qualitative approach. Accordingly, several in-depth interviews have been conducted with SMEs operating in the healthcare sector. The results seem to indicate that, although SMEs in the healthcare sector appear to favour formal innovation protection strategies, they tend to use several (formal / informal / supplementary) innovation protection strategies simultaneously to protect their innovations. They may, furthermore, have various motives to opt for each one of them. Determinants, in addition, may also influence their choice for innovation protection strategies. The decision-making process for innovation protection strategies, therefore, appears to be complex in the context of SMEs. In contrast to previous research, finally, formal innovation protection strategies seem to be the most effective innovation protection strategies in protecting innovations and their returns for SMEs operating in the healthcare sector.
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