Let’s step up, together!

The Innosteps web platform is a cooperation ecosystem for increasing the innovative capacity of Estonian companies and developing a common culture of innovation.

Three steps to supercharge your company

Self-assessment and positioning

Choosing development areas – where do I want to make a leap?

Selection of knowledge, skills, services and resources from the innosteps portal innotrepp.ee

Innosteps is a model for the development of the innovation capacity of companies, with which we can talk about innovation based on the level of development and needs of each company.

The purpose of innovation is to create value and achieve a competitive advantage, contributing to the company’s development and productivity growth. At the same time, innovations do not always have to be the first in the world or lead to radical change, but can also contain small incremental changes that improve.

Users of the Innosteps application have the opportunity to evaluate their innovation capacity with a simple test and find suitable partners for cooperation.


Number of innovation steps

Number of Estonian companies interested in innovation, who contribute to the Estonian economy with the ambition of their growth


Average score

This is the average Estonian company  – shall we step up to the next level together?

A common roadmap for understanding innovation

All companies want to be successful, but everyone’s journey to success is different. The difference between these journeys also means that we need a more precise vocabulary to support innovation – if the activities necessary for the development of one company are related to the implementation of processes, another lacks product development competence, and the third needs help in carrying out an international research project, then all of them talk about innovation in different words.

Five levels of organisational innovation capabilities

Companies can be divided into five innovation capability levels based on how much control they have over their own competitiveness. Companies on the bottom of the innovation ladder depend primarily on customers (whom they cannot choose themselves), companies with a global reach and a unique value proposition shape the market on the top of the ladder.

Tase 1

Innovation enthusiast

You are interested in innovation, you have also planned to pay more attention to innovations in your company. Where to start?

Tase 2

Innovation experimenter

You have taken first steps in innovation initiatives and development activities in the company. Innovation is no longer a confusing word for you.

Tase 3

Process-driven innovator

Your company’s level of innovation is characterized by clear processes and practices. Having learned from the first projects, you have created internal systems for processes.

Tase 4

Strategic innovator

Your company’s level of innovation is characterized by strategic innovation activities, large-scale research and development activities and increasing internationalization. You have grown from a systemic innovator to a strategic player.

Tase 5

Ecosystem designer

Congratulations! Your company has achieved global influence and you are an innovation leader in your field. You are an example to others, your activities are characterized by cooperation involving different parts of the ecosystem and open innovation.

Market dependent
Creating / shaping the market

Six categories of innovation enablers

The innovation capabilities of companies depend on the interaction of six factors: management, team, value proposition, processes, finances and cooperation. Companies at each level of development have different challenges within the scope of all the mentioned areas: for example, the challenge of the company’s management level at the entry level is to prepare a company development plan, and companies at the top level work for a 10+ year development horizon.

Ambition, strategy and leadership

Management vision and ambition, strategic directions and leadership skills necessary for the long-term success of the organization.

Culture and people

Organizational culture and employee engagement that creates a favorable environment for innovation and creative solutions, thereby supporting the overall success and development of the company.

Value proposition innovation

How company creates and offers unique value to its customers, thereby differentiating itself from competitors in the market and ensuring sustainable growth and customer loyalty.

Innovation management processes and practices

Strategic approaches and systematic methods used by an organization to generate, evaluate, select and implement innovations.


Resources and financial management, including investments, budgeting strategies, which are important to secure funding for innovation projects.

Partnerships and open innovation

Strategic partnerships and cooperation networks that enable companies to share risks, resources, knowledge and accelerate the development of new solutions.

Innosteps competences matrix

By crossing the levels and factors of innovation capability, we get the innosteps competences matrix, with which we can talk about innovation in the context of this particular company: which topics are a challenge for particular companies and how to support them.

Tase 1
Tase 2
Tase 3
Tase 4
Tase 5

Partnerships and open innovation


Innovation management processes and practices

Value proposition innovation

Culture and people

Ambition, strategy and leadership

Innosteps Matrix

The Innosteps Matrix addresses the six main factors of innovation capability at five different levels. Start reading the matrix from the lower left corner – ambition and leadership – moving up. For a detailed description of each company’s level of innovation capability, click on the category to open it!


Level 1
Innovation enthusiast


Level 2
Innovation experimenter

Basic knowledge / initiation

Level 3
Process-driven innovator

Processes and engagement

Level 4
Strategic innovator

R&D and investment intensity

Level 5
Ecosystem designer

Global impact and reach

Partnerships and open innovation
Innovation partnerships are deficient
First cooperation partners for innovation
Partners selected on the basis of innovation
Research institutions and international partners
Open innovation, partners contribute to ecosystem center
Open innovation
Corporate knowledge is not managed

The company’s internal knowledge, skills and technologies are not stored or documented.

Internal knowledge retention

The company pays attention to keeping internal knowledge and skills within the company.

Data and intellectual property related processes

Company has procedures in place to prevent uncontrolled disclosure of internal knowledge, skills and technologies and to protect trade secrets/intellectual property.

Sharing data and intellectual property

Company has procedures and experience in creating knowledge or technologies in cooperation with other companies. Company is willing to license some of its knowledge and technologies to non-competing companies.

Open innovation cooperation platform

A company’s intellectual property is systematically commercialized, for example through licenses or the creation of subsidiaries.

Cooperation capabilities
Market knowledge

We do not cooperate with other companies or organizations related to innovation activities, but we collect information from the market about trends in our field.

Innovation cooperation with customers and suppliers

We carry out a small amount of innovative activities in cooperation with customers, partners and/or suppliers.

First innovation-related partnerships

We have well-established cooperation relationships and innovation projects with selected partners for the development of new products and services.

Continuous innovation partnership

We have a systemically functioning and continuous innovation partnership with companies, researchers, customers and professional networks.

Innovation cooperation through open platform

Innovation cooperation works through an open cooperation platform, through which we look for the best market knowledge and cooperation partners.

Financial capabilities are deficient
Project-based financing
Systematic financing
Capacity to raise funds
Public offering / listing capacity
Investments in innovation
No investments in innovation activities

We do not consciously invest in innovation. Innovation activities are not distinguished in our budget.

Random reactive expenditures

Our budget includes funds for innovation projects, but the expenditure on innovation activities is random, mainly reacting to the market situation, the costs of innovation activities are not differentiated.

Digitisation, automation, product development

We have implemented a fixed budget for innovation projects, including continuous automation and digitization, and we have processes in place to finance these projects.

R&D > 2% of turnover

We direct a significant part of our budget to innovation. The focus of investments is research and development (approximately 2% of turnover or more than 1 million euros).

R&D > 10% of turnover

Our financial planning is fully integrated with our innovation strategy, allowing us to be industry leaders and set directions. The focus of investments is research and development (approximately 10% or more of turnover or in millions of euros).

Financial capabilities
Lack of capability to raise funds

The ability to raise money is currently absent or insufficient.

A few funded projects

We have individual project-funded innovation projects.

Systematic innovation investments

We have systematic investments in innovative activities and the ability to consistently finance innovations.

Capacity to raise funds

We have created a strategy for financing innovation projects and have the ability to attract external investment and funding sources.

Money raising capacity by listing shares

We have broad and diverse sources of funding for innovation, including, for example, internal funds, venture capital and/or grant programs, and the ability to raise funds through an IPO if necessary.

Innovation management processes and practices
Innovation management is deficient
Initial agreements on innovation management
Innovation management process established
Innovation management model fully implemented
Ecosystem inclusive innovation process
Innovation management
Innovation management is absent

We have no knowledge or previous practice of managing innovation processes, nor established innovation management principles. If an idea for an innovation arises, it is implemented alongside everyday work. Innovation activities are rather random, they are not systematically planned, the generation and implementation of ideas is random.


Project-based innovations

Innovation activities are need-based. The company engages in innovation activities on a project basis and may include new products, services, processes, business models or technologies. The company has basic knowledge of innovation process management and may have started with process description. However, the implementation of innovations is still carried out on a project-by-project basis as needed.



Innovation management process and strategy

The guiding principles of the processes of innovation activities have been created, but partially implemented. The company has created and managed innovation processes for the implementation of innovative ideas. Innovation guiding principles are a set of guidelines, guidelines, policies or rules formally adopted and established by a company that govern how a company plans, manages and promotes innovation in its operations and strategies. This involves regular idea generation, evaluation and development to achieve a continuous and iterative innovation process. The goal of systematic innovation is to increase the effectiveness of innovation and ensure that it is integrated into the day-to-day operations of the organization.



Innovation management model implemented

The innovation management system is implemented and fully implemented. The company uses continuously improved processes for innovation management, systematic execution of innovation projects and risk management. Strategic innovation is applied, where a company designs and implements new ideas and innovations that support its long-term business goals and strategy. It focuses on how innovation helps a company gain competitive advantage, expand market share, or create new business lines. Strategic innovation is deeply integrated into the company’s business plan and long-term vision and is used to achieve strategic goals.

ISO innovation management implemented

The company’s innovation management system is of strategic importance and internationally scalable. This means that innovation is aimed not only at the local market but also at international markets and often requires the development of an international business strategy and careful planning of resources and partnerships. The innovation management system complies with the innovation management standard ISO 56002, and is also used in the partner network.




Innovation portfolio management
Innovation portfolio management is absent

The company does not distinguish between conventional development projects and innovation projects. We choose projects whose risks have been assessed.


A few innovation projects

Innovation projects are random. The company chooses innovation projects on a project-by-project basis and/or as needed, giving priority to lower-risk projects.


Consolidated view of innovation projects

A comprehensive overview of innovation projects. The company owns, differentiates and manages existing innovation projects, at different risk levels, but does not necessarily own projects that cross all 3 horizons.


Holistic portfolio management on 3 horizons

Comprehensive management of the portfolio of innovation projects through 3 horizons. The company monitors and manages its innovation projects on different innovation horizons (1 – new for the company, i.e. incremental innovation; 2 – new for the target market and/or in its field; 3 – new globally, i.e. radical innovation) to ensure that they are ready for both short-term and long-term challenges and that their innovation supports the overall strategy and business objectives.


Segmented innovation portfolios

Company has segmented innovation portfolios. Innovation projects are categorized into different segments according to specific goals, needs or market segments. This allows the company to focus on different areas and manage innovation resources more efficiently.


Idea flow management
There is a random collection of ideas

Company does not have a separate process for collecting ideas, the collection of ideas is random. Brainstorming is the process by which a company collects and gathers new ideas and suggestions from employees, partners or customers to find potential innovation opportunities or solutions to problems.


Idea collection linked to market demand

Idea collection arises from market demand and is largely related to process improvement. Employees have the opportunity to present their ideas and suggestions for improvement. Brainstorming can involve different channels for presenting ideas, such as online platforms, hackathons, work meetings or brainstorming campaigns.


Annual brainstorming and market testing methodology

Idea collection to improve processes or products/services takes place at least once a year. The collected ideas are selected to be tested. There is some market testing methodology in use.


Regular open brainstorming and market testing

Company has developed a regular open idea collection. Ideas are systematically aimed mainly at developing products/services and enhancing competitive advantage. A continuous market testing methodology is in use.


Continuous open brainstorming, transparent testing

Idea collection is part of our innovation process and culture. Presenting, testing and developing ideas is an integral part of the innovation management process.


Product development
Development of products is not pursued

Company is not consciously engaged in product or service development.

Initial practice in product development

Company has some product development experience. Mainly, the product/service is adapted to meet the wishes given by the customers or we create small-scale modifications.

Customer-oriented systematic product development

The company has its own products and/or services, for the development of which we have created a customer-oriented approach and product development process.

Knowledge-intensive product development

The company has a large portfolio of its own products, for the development of which specific development processes have been developed.

Open innovation-driven product development

The company has a large-scale product/service development based on the principles of open innovation. Development processes are managed both within the company and in the cooperation network.

Value proposition innovation
Seeking and noticing inspiration
Innovation in some categories
Complete value proposition and few protected intellectual properties
Protected intellectual property portfolio and well established brand
Globally unique competitive advantage and innovation platform
Business model innovation
Business model similar to competitors

There is no clear competitive advantage. The business model is conventional (similar to competitors). There is no experience in getting to know the customer/consumer and their real needs in order to adapt their products/services accordingly.


Efficiency-based business model

The business model is constantly conceptualized and there are initial ideas and hypotheses on how the business model could be used to enhance competitive advantage in the future. Real changes in the business model have not yet been implemented. Competitive advantage can be price and efficient business processes. The business model contains some innovative elements, but they are limited.


Successful business model on the market

The business model is innovative in the home and selected target markets. There is a systematic renewal of the business model to maintain and/or completely change the current competitive advantage. The ambition is to reach a distinct business model.


Unique business model that creates new markets

A business model that is significantly different from its competitors, which allows it to take advantage of competitive advantages. Often a leader in the sector. The uniqueness of the company’s business model allows it to enter new markets.


Business model as innovation platform

A unique business model that has given a first-mover advantage. The company’s business model creates completely new markets where it is the only or one of the few providers.


Technology innovation
Use of widely adopted technologies

Company’s technology is at the same level as competitors in the market. Widespread technologies are used that are ready for use by all market participants and do not provide a noticeable competitive advantage.


Some technological novelty

Company’s technology has some edge in select markets. Widespread technologies are used, adapted to the company’s processes, which gives a competitive advantage in the target market


Strong technological innovation

Company’s technology provides a significant advantage over competitors in its field. Significantly updated technology is used, which gives the company competitive advantages in its field, regardless of the region.


Unique technological innovation

Company’s technology allows entering markets inaccessible to competitors. New and/or significantly updated technology is used, which gives the company competitive advantages regardless of region and/or industry.


DeepTech / deep technology

Company’s technology makes it possible to create completely new markets around the world. A unique technology is used, which allows to create completely new possibilities of use and to transform existing markets.


Product/Service innovation
Market-common product/service

Product/service prevalent in the market.

Market-improved product/service

A market-improved product/service is a product or service that has undergone changes or enhancements to better meet market demands or consumer expectations. This may include various improvements such as improving quality, adding features, changing design, adjusting price or improving service.


A few own products/services

A unique product in an existing market is a product or service that differs from other similar products or services available in the market and offers unique features, benefits or added value to consumers. This differentiation may include special design, quality, features, brand recognition or other unique features that make this product stand out and attractive in the market.


Internationally distinctive product/service, recognized brand

Having an internationally distinctive own product/service, a recognized brand. The organization makes continuous efforts to preserve and exploit the value of its brand and to ensure its effective protection and management. It can be an important part of business strategy and competitive advantage in the market.


Product-service is synonymous with entire product category

Having an own product and/or service based on open innovation, which is a leader in its product category. Open innovation is an approach where an organization collaborates with external parties such as other companies, universities, research institutions, customers or partners to find, develop and implement new ideas and innovation. It involves the sharing of ideas and knowledge outside the company and enables the use of outside information and skills to create value and competitive advantage. Open innovation can include technology transfers, collaborative projects, licensing agreements and other forms of collaboration.


Intellectual property rights
Intellectual property (IP) protection is absent

The company’s value proposition is not protected, it tries to develop faster than its competitors. A value proposition is a company’s promise of how its product or service will solve customer problems or meet their needs better than competitors. It helps a company to differentiate itself in the market and to get customers who feel that they are getting special benefit or value from a particular company or product.


Lack of intellectual property (IP) protection activities

The knowledge necessary to realize the value proposition is kept as a trade secret. A value proposition can include various aspects such as product/service quality, pricing formula, unique features, ease of use, brand reputation or customer service.


A few protected own products

The company has a partially protected trade secret and/or some registered intellectual property objects, but no systematic approach yet. A protected trade secret is a trade secret consisting of information, data, processes or other known knowledge that gives a company a competitive advantage because it is not publicly known. A protected trade secret can include a variety of information, such as product recipes, manufacturing processes, marketing strategies, customer lists, research and development results, or other knowledge important to the business.


Protected product portfolio

Company has a product portfolio protected by intellectual property. The intellectual property necessary for the realization of the value proposition is cataloged and actively managed, the protection of intellectual property through registration is systematized. An intellectual property portfolio includes a company’s products, services or technologies that are legally protected by intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks, copyrights or designs. This protection helps a company protect the intellectual property it creates and ensure that no one else can use, copy or distribute it without permission.


Intellectual property protection strategy

Company has a well-thought-out intellectual property protection strategy, an actively managed intellectual property portfolio and/or registered industrial property. An intellectual property protection strategy is a company’s plan for protecting the intellectual property it has created, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs, and trade secrets. The purpose of the defense strategy is to preserve and maximize the value of the created intellectual property, protect it from illegal use or misuse, and ensure the company’s competitive advantage in the market.


Business process innovation
Reactive adjustment of work processes

The focus of business processes is on core processes. Organic process enhancement mainly responding to the market situation.



Automation and digitalization of individual processes

Some innovation in support and management processes, with the aim of making them more efficient. For example: the digitalization and automation action plan has been created and partially implemented.



Systematic automation and digitization covering all processes

Consciously implemented systematic digitization and automation of business processes to achieve competitive advantages.

Innovation-driven proactive process innovation

Systematic and proactive enhancement and improvement of business processes based on innovation.

Etalon protsesside uuendamisel

Süsteemne ja strateegiline pidev äriprotsesside innovatsioon koos tulemuslikkuse hindamisega.

Culture and people
Some interested parties
A few leaders
Engaging the wider team
Innovation culture
Innovation role model
Innovation culture
Limited readiness for change

Company does not consciously engage in work culture analysis, creation or development of a culture that supports innovation. Corporate culture is an organization’s set of values, practices, norms of behavior, and attitudes that determine how people work and interact in an organization.


Attempts at organizational change

Company’s innovation culture has not developed, but testing of individual innovations is possible.

General supportive mentality

Company’s culture supports innovation, openness to change and willingness to take risks. The company invests in employee involvement, creativity, motivation and satisfaction. The company describes the recommended norms of behavior and practices within the organization. It includes the way people communicate, manage, collaborate and innovate.


Innovation is part of business culture

Company’s culture of innovation is based on shared values ​​and beliefs. We are open to change and dare to take risks. Incentives for innovation achievements have been implemented in the company to develop competences.

Established innovation culture

Company’s culture of innovation is characterized by deep-rooted common values ​​and beliefs, cooperation that simultaneously supports creativity and efficiency. A horizontal management culture is consciously created in the company. Open and honest communication is implemented in the company, which contributes to understanding the culture and values ​​of the organization. The important values ​​and beliefs of the organization are actively promoted and emphasized.


Innovation activities are not a part of daily work

Company’s employees do not play an active role in the implementation of innovations. Initiating innovations and adapting to them is rather difficult, employees value stability and everyday work.



Some interested leaders are present

Company has individual innovation leaders who are open to change and willing to take risks. Innovations are dealt with alongside the main work. Leaders shape and define the organization’s values ​​and set an example with their behavior, thereby influencing the attitude and behavior of employees. They are also responsible for promoting open communication, teamwork and employee development in line with organizational goals.


Positions related to innovation

Company has positions whose tasks are related to innovation activities. Employees are motivated to think “out of the box” and carry innovative values.

Dedicated innovation team

Company has a competent team whose main tasks are related to innovation. They work with dedication, create and maintain a culture that supports innovation.

Recruitment according to development horizon

Company recruits based on the goals of the company’s innovation strategy and consciously seeks employees to complement our existing team with values ​​and skills that support innovation.

Ambition, strategy and leadership
Interest of owners and managers
Initiatives for individual innovations
International ambition and innovation strategy
Knowledge-intensive innovation with international ambition
Ambition to become cooperation platform / consolidator
Scaling / Sales capabilities
Occasional export inqueries

There is no international scalability or the focus is currently mainly on the domestic market. The inquiries received by the company from foreign customers are rather random.


Regular orders from export markets

Company has individual export markets where the product/service fits. The company regularly receives orders from foreign customers, but does not actively sell to target markets.



Strong sales ability in selected target markets

Company has well-established international target markets and products/services suitable for them. Products/services are tailored for specific target markets. Company has export/sales managers and/or sales partners on site in the target markets with a focus on target markets.


Strong international brand and representation

Company has a strong international brand and representation in foreign markets. Expanding reach to capture new markets. Products/services are developed specifically for different target markets. Exports make up a significant part of sales revenue


Global reach, consolidated companies

Company has global sales and business scope. Global business scope refers to the company’s operations and expansion on an international level, where the company operates in several countries and/or a large number of markets. The company engages in business activities that are internationally diverse and extensive.


Market ambition
Local market ambition

Company has the ambition to be among the market leaders in the local market.

Ambition for a few new export markets

Company has the ambition to reach competition in selected foreign markets and has chosen specific target markets to match its product/service.


Broader international ambition in target markets

Company has a broader international market leader ambition and the product/service sales ambition includes a market leader position in its region.


Global ambition

Company has the ambition to conquer global markets. The company’s product/service sales ambition includes a global market leader position in its field.


Globaalne koostööplatvormi ambitsioon

Ettevõttel on turgu muutva globaalse koostööplatvormi ambitsioon ning eesmärk luua ja käivitada platvorm või lahendus, mis mitte ainult ei muuda olemasolevat turgu või tööstust, vaid ka toetab rahvusvahelist koostööd ja mõjutab globaalset dünaamikat.


Reactive management, desire for development

Company reacts to changes as needed and does not plan innovation projects long in advance.

Tactical management (1–2 years) with a few innovations

Company has a 1-2 year plan and budgeted ongoing development activities, including innovation projects.

Strategic development horizon 2–5 years with innovation strategy

Company has a 2-5 year plan, which includes systematically managed innovation projects and goals. Innovation projects are planned and managed, follow a specific methodology and system to ensure the successful development and implementation of innovation in the organization in accordance with strategic goals.


Visionary development horizon 5–10 years

Company has a 5-10 year plan based on vision and knowledge-intensive innovation. Knowledge-intensive innovation requires extensive use and development of knowledge, expertise and intellectual capital. This means that the successful implementation of innovation depends on a strong knowledge base and specialized skills.


10+ years development horizon

Company has a 10+ development horizon and the strategy is based on knowledge-intensive innovation. Knowledge-intensive innovation often involves research and development, where scientists, engineers and professionals develop new technologies, products or services.


Innovation Ambition
Interest in innovation

Company has a desire to contribute more to development activities in addition to current activities.

Ambition of a distinctive own product/service

Company is ready to implement new initiatives and wants to manage innovation processes better.

Ambition for international recognition and branding

Company has systematically managed innovation projects and the ambition to create an innovation strategy. An innovation strategy is a company’s planned and systematic approach to how they intend to promote, manage and implement innovation in their business.


Global ambition

Company wants to make research and development an integral part of its innovation. Research and development is a process that helps create new ideas, technologies, products, services or processes that form the basis of innovation.


Ambition of a global collaboration platform

The company wants to create long-term innovation projects to create market-changing products/services. Long-horizon innovation projects may include research and development in the research and development of new technologies, long-term product development to conquer new markets, or the creation of new business models that may change the company’s business model in the future.


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