The objective of this paper is to examine the relationship between innovation and firms’ participation in global value chains (GVCs). To achieve this objective, we use rich firm-level data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES), spanning the period of 2006–2017, belonging to 90 countries. Accounting for endogeneity arising from reverse causality, our study finds firm innovation to be a driver of firm GVC participation across countries. These findings are robust to alternative measures of innovation and various sub-sample analysis. © 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.