“Nearly three decades of research into the sources of innovation, pioneered and still driven by Eric von Hippel (MIT), has revealed that users can be surprisingly creative and innovative. In many cases, the users themselves – and not manufacturers – are the originators of new products and services.
Companies and academics alike are increasingly searching for ways to reclaim the territory of user innovation for innovation management and product development.
The User Innovation Research Initiative aims to deepen our understanding of the phenomenon of user innovation. We search for patterns and mechanisms and, building on our insights, develop and improve practical methods in order to harness user innovativeness for companies. Our research is organized in four areas:
- Lead user research – Innovative potential is concentrated among lead users. How can they be identified?
- Toolkits for user innovation and design – Companies can equip their customers with virtual tools which allow them to design their own product. How does this work?
- Innovative user communities – Users often form networks and informal groups – with highly innovative output. What can be learned from this?
- Users & entrepreneurs – User innovators might themselves exploit entrepreneurial opportunities. How do they add to industry development