A sufficient and steady stream of innovations is widely seen as a basis for healthy modern economies. Governments divert substantial resources from other purposes in society to increase innovation. Yet the failure rate among innovative SMEs is high, suggesting that resources are wasted. Avoiding such waste is a challenge for both governments and investors, but also raises a question for the innovative company, namely how to build and fund the enterprise on an ethical basis. The dilemma of giving in to temptations to ‘cut corners’ clearly exists, for example to exploit the inevitable asymmetry of information arising in innovation and potentially deploy this in support of misleading claims about specific capabilities and/or the unjustified creation and exploitation of reputation. This is consistent with Olaf Fisscher’s finding that entrepreneurs starting new ventures tend to exhibit an inherent bias towards compromising their own values in order to succeed at any cost. When the innoSME’s aspirations are unrealistic or the proposed innovations are of marginal value, the ethical issues are broader and extend also to those who are potential financiers. Noting this as a gap in the ethics literature, we argue that the current situation fails to match economic and ethical ideals and that work is needed to develop tools which allow those who provide finance and support for innovation to target it more effectively at those who have a prospect of successfully launching genuine innovations and thus reduce the ‘noise’ in the innovation field.