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User Innovation Research Initiative

User Innovation Research Initative Vienna Logo

The User Innovation Research Initiative is a research program which aims to deepen our understanding of the phenomenon of user innovation and is hosted by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics & Business.

The Phenomenon

Many Users Innovate: 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.

  • Empirical studies, for example in the fields of computers, banking, petroleum processing, software, manufacturing processes, the semi-conductor industry and many sports industries like snowboarding, windsurfing, or kayaking have shown that the most important innovations in the evolution of industries were originated by users.

  • User innovation is not a rare occurrence. The share of user innovators in the fields studied to date range from 10% (outdoor consumer products) to almost 80% (extreme sporting communities).

  • The advent of the internet has propelled user innovativeness, as it is now much easier for users to interact with other users. The results of such global user networks and communities include open source software or Wikipedia, to name just two examples.

Companies and academics alike are increasingly searching for ways to reclaim the territory of user innovation for innovation management and product development.

International Research Partners

Outstanding User Innovation Research Scholarship

Outstanding international researchers who want to visit and collaborate with the User Innovation Research Initiative group in Vienna are provided with office space and can apply for the 'Outstanding User Innovation Research Scholarship' in order to facilitate their stay.

Interested in Collaborating?

We are highly interested in collaborating with scholars as well as practitioners with an interest in one of the focus areas of our User Innovation Research Initiative.

For scholars: If you are interested in sharing your ideas, discussing and presenting your work, or launching joint projects please feel free to contact the initative leader Nikolaus Franke (nikolaus.franke@wu-wien.ac.at) or one of the initiative managers (see below) for further information.

For practitioners: If you are interested in collaborating with or sponsoring the User Innovation Research Initiative group, there are many different ways to do so. Please feel free to contact either the initative leader Nikolaus Franke (nikolaus.franke@wu-wien.ac.at) or one of the initiative managers (see below) for further information.


Further Relevant Links

A 'cornerstone' book about user innovation is 'Democratizing Innovation' by Prof. Eric von Hippel (MIT). A free download is available at:

A collection of relevant research papers on user innovation is available at:

A good website on mass customization (in German) is