This paper introduces the term ‘supply platform’ as a tentative and open-ended concept that captures characteristics of central importance for the study of export-oriented producers. As regional concentrations of export-oriented suppliers in China and India are maturing, many firms are now striving to build up innovation capabilities. How do we study the transition from production capabilities to innovation capabilities in supply platforms? This paper reviews the insights from the innovation systems and global value chain literatures and discusses how we may build on these approaches for empirical studies of transition. It is found that these literatures provide important hypotheses for empirical research but more conceptual work is needed in order to address adequately the question of interest.