The paper aims at defining the management framework for community innovation labs (CILs) linked to higher education institutions (HEIs) by applying the Delphi method. CILs are regarded as experimental settings established in HEIs aimed at addressing societal challenges. Specifically, the research study investigated the following questions: (1) What is the HEI-based CIL purpose and role, which is beneficial to society; (2) What kinds of governance, business method, capabilities and core activities are necessary for the establishment of viable CILs in HEIs; and (3) What forms of added value generated by CILs have the most potential for benefiting society? Results indicate that during 2020s it is expected that CILs will play a significant role in designing the local, regional or country innovation agenda. Also, they are expected to establish networks of people and multi-disciplinary teams that can address various societal challenges, while aiming at catalysing deeper, more sustainable and more creative approaches to systemic change. In addition to reinforcing the conceptualisation of a HEI-based CIL, the research results indicate understandings of the role and priorities of HEIs in CILs. This, then, leaves open how a CIL can manifest across and within communities when operationalized through this developing management framework. The ongoing process of shaping the effective CIL governance and HEI collaboration calls for dialogue, exploration and pilot solutions.