The integration of various renewable energy technologies and intermittent changes in power supply and demand is becoming increasingly possible through the smart grid system. Innovation in technologies and systems like smart meters, energy controls, and communication systems have been required for scale-up and industrialization of smart grids, whereas Chinese firms still have much room for improvement. This has stimulated questions about the role of open innovation intermediaries(OIIs), whose responsibility is to engage with different types of partners to acquire new ideas and resources from the external environment. With the help of Oils, Chinese firms in smart grid industry can achieve greatly to renewable energy development and energy conservation. The current study addresses this issue, trying to find the suitable Oils from different open innovation activities including outside-in, inside-out, and coupled processes in the power supply, grid, and electrical customer side of the smart grid industry in China. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.