As part of our research for Innovation brokerage: Enabling collaborations through emerging digital tech, we analysed approximately 150 examples of digital innovation brokerage tools. To help broker further innovation – and to support further research in this area – we’ve made these examples available to browse, filter, and search in a database of examples.

What is innovation brokerage?

Innovation brokerage connects ideas, people, organisations, and communities to enable and support the innovation process. Innovation rarely happens through the actions of a single person or organisation. More often, it’s the result of collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Human consultants, scouts, or other specialist brokers can help with these processes. And increasingly, so can digital tools.

Digital tools for brokering innovation

The database of examples presents digital tools found during research into innovation brokerage. These range from the well-used to the little-known, and use many different technologies and models to help facilitate the innovation brokerage process. There are four ways to explore the database: browsing tool examples, exploring tools by phase, filtering tools by category, and analysing this data yourself.

Browse tool examples

What kinds of digital innovation brokerage tools exist, and how do they help bring together people and ideas? Browse the database of examples to discover the range of available tools and how they help broker innovation.

Browse examples

Explore tools by phase

One of the ways you can browse the tools is by the phase of innovation brokerage they address.

We see innovation brokerage as playing out over four different phases. These phases aren’t strictly sequential. Instead, they describe patterns of action that innovators follow when they seek out potential collaborators or ideas. An innovator might jump between phases, or pursue more than one phase at once. Similarly, brokers may offer services that support more than one of these phases.

Some phases are more dependent on human creativity, reasoning, and relationship-building while others are enhanced by augmenting human capabilities with those of machines. The Search phase is particularly suited to digitisation, whereas Prepare, Align, and Support remain largely dependent on human capabilities. However, there is growing potential for digital technologies to assist with these phases, too. The database features some examples of digital tools that are already serving innovation brokerage needs beyond Search, and also includes examples of tools that could easily be adapted or put to use for innovation brokerage, even though this isn’t their focus now.

Each of the digital tools featured in our database primarily supports one of the four phases.


Helps innovators understand what they are looking for.


Helps innovators establish trust and collaborate effectively.


Helps innovators build and sustain working relationships.

Filter tools by categories

You can also filter the tools according to five different categories, including type of tool, technology, sector, founding year, and location.

Type of tool

This category emerged from analysing the tool examples according to the types of services they provide. Common types include challenge platforms, networking tools, and vertical search tools.


When labelling each tool with a sector, we considered its ownership, production, and management. Most tools with data in this category were created by private sector entities. Some were created by public sector or charitable entities. Fewer were created by public and private sector entities working together.

Founding year

This refers to the year a tool was established, to the best of our knowledge. You can adjust the sliders for this category to limit your search to tools established within a specific range of years. Most of the tools in this database are still available to use today.


A tool’s location indicates the country or countries where its ownership is based. Most tools with data in this category are based in the USA. However, because most of the tools are accessible online, they can be said to reach global markets.

These categories help uncover how the tools differ from one another beyond their phases. However, it’s important to note that not every tool featured in the database displays data for every one of these categories. To meet the requirements of this project, we developed in-depth case studies of 7 examples, collected complete data on approximately 40 additional examples, and collected partial data for the remaining 110 examples. Taken together, these illustrate the variety of forms these tools can take.

Although we have made efforts to ensure the accuracy of this information, for the most up-to-date information, we recommend contacting the tool managers or creators directly.

Most tool descriptions provided in the database have been taken directly from tool websites or social media accounts, and should not be seen as endorsements or otherwise of any particular product or service.

Analyse this data yourself

Interested in investigating these examples of digital innovation brokerage tools further? You can download the full dataset as a spreadsheet (.csv) file to modify and analyse yourself. And if you know of any other exciting examples of digital innovation brokerage tools, please let us know so we can share them here!

Download spreadsheet (in zip file)
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