Despite a growing literature, the relationship between financing constraints (FC), intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and firm innovation remains unclear within the transitional country context. Drawing on endogenous growth theory and extending the Gorodnichenko and Schnitzer (2013) framework, we hypothesize that in addition to firm-specific factors, country-level variables manifested within FC hamper incremental innovation, albeit in varying degrees due to industry heterogeneity. Secondly, as opposed to previous studies that solely focus on FC affecting firm innovation, we propose that due to resource constraints, firms in transition economies tend to follow an imitational innovation strategy, and therefore, from this perspective, IPR protection can be crucial for firm-level innovation within those economies. Using data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) consisting of information for about 21,960 firms from 27 Eastern European and Central Asian transition countries and employing a two-step probit model with endogenous regressors, we find that adverse effects of FC and IPR on firms' innovation activities are driven from within as well as between industries. Focusing on the differential impacts of FC and IPR protection across industries, we direct potential causal pathways from easing FC and optimal IPR protection to encourage firms' innovation. Based on the findings, while very strict IPR protection is detrimental to firms' product and process innovation in industries with limited resource and skill capabilities, it is nevertheless helpful for research and development (R&D) activities in industries characterised by strong R&D and IP capacities. Our results offer useful insights for policymakers to support incremental innovation as well as boost invention. IPR protection policies require to be customised to the industries and firms, since invariably tight or lax IPR enforcement can be discouraging to both incremental and radical innovation, causing all industries suffering from the same treatment.