This study empirically analyses the effects of five critical success factors on the front end of innovation and new product development success. Data from a self-developed questionnaire on a cross-industry sample of 77 German-based small- and medium-sized firms were collected through an online survey. Accouting for factors not included in previous studies, the results indicate that strategic alignment, creative encouragement, and external collaboration are the key predictors of front-end success. Surprisingly, the impact of process formalisation and the importance of cross-functional collaboration for front-end success could not be supported. We conject that collaboration in the front end of innovation must exceed simple communication and information exchange to significantly effect front-end success. Managerial implications of this study include the need for an internal search for ideas by fostering employees' creative abilities while simultaneously remaining open to external input. Also, activities in the front end of innovation should be aligned with the organisation's overall business strategy to promote successful ideation.