The paper discusses demand and demand conditions for innovation as well as demand based policies for innovation in the context of the EU CEE countries. Far from regarding demand policies as a simplistic silver bullet, this paper argues that the EU CEEC catch up process could potentially be accelerated through a more explicit and systematic orientation towards demand for innovation - rather than focusing on supply side conditions. This could at the same time be linked to a better satisfaction of needs of the society and industry alike. The main argument of the paper is that institutional adaptations and a policy mix that tackles the bottlenecks of demand for innovation and supports the articulation of demand can link modernisation of the economy and the public services with innovation impulses for the EU CEEC economies and contribute to a tailored catching up process. The paper first introduces the current wider context of demand based innovation policies at EU level, presents a conceptualisation of demand based innovation policy and introduces a typology of demand measures. In its empirical section, it starts with the EU CEEC innovation capabilities as a context for demand based innovation policies and argues that our current understanding of the innovation capabilities and conditions fall short when it comes to capture the demand side. The core of the paper discusses some alternative variables to map demand conditions in the EU CEEC and links this discussion with concrete policy challenges. Subsequently, for the sake of illustration, the paper summarises the (still very poor) policy trends towards including the demand side in policy design and implementation in the EU CEE countries. This is illustrative, the paper does not and cannot claim to analyse all demand dimensions in existing policies. The paper finishes with policy challenges and gives a set of policy recommendations to move towards a broader, more balanced mix of policies better suited to tackle the specific situations in the EU CEEC.