Service industries as tourism, cultural industries, finance, and retail are considered as under-represented in the trade and industry portfolio. This paper centres on the tourism industry and pay particular attention to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). The purpose of the project was to identify SMEs' need for research-based knowledge, relevant topics, and to prioritize R&D ideas suitable for innovation and/or as a cooperation between academic and industry partners. Three virtual workshops were arranged in the period May – September 2020. All participants represented Norwegian destination associations, regional businesses, and SMEs. As a result of reflections in groups and plenary, specific tourism challenges and knowledge needs were identified. The tourism industry is characterized by many small businesses with few employees, tight finances, and limited resources for development. Challenges are related to seasonal employment, high workforce turnover, lack of strategically market insight, and limited ability to exploit new technology. Businesses are generally vulnerable to changes in demand from the market, which was reinforced by the outbreak of COVID-19. Three topics were emphasised for developing mutual project concepts and joint applications as a collaboration between the industry and scientific partners: (1) Partnership collaboration, (2) Virtual Tourism, and (3) All-Year Destinations. This paper discusses potential theoretical perspectives and empirical approaches for creation of future joint innovations and studies . Discussions are related to: How suitable are virtual workshops for joint reflection on common challenges and cocreation of prioritized actions? Which challenges and needs are tourism confronted with? What should the tourist industry emphasise in face of the Covid19 pandemic? An additional result of the workshops is the establishment of a tourism network among the participants, and with an intention to incorporate even more relevant actors. Further, the project has been significant for developing a program for SMB innovations, including both the service industries and additional sectors.