Award Winner 2017

Eric von Hippel


MIT Sloan School of Management

Eric von Hippel was one of the first scientists to recognize the importance of users as a source of ideas for innovation and the development of new products. Certain users have stronger needs for improved product performance than other users on the market or feel a specific need earlier than others do. Such so-called “lead users” typically try to improve existing products themselves, rather than waiting for manufacturers to innovate. Companies can benefit from lead users by involving them in the innovation process and, if possible, putting their innovation proposals into mass production.

Research by Eric von Hippel and his colleagues has shown that lead users are responsible for the majority of innovation, especially in the development of scientific equipment and banking services.

In addition to the theory of lead users, Professor von Hippel has also made important contributions to the research of open source innovations. In his book "Free Innovation", Professor von Hippel describes how innovations are developed by users and then made available to others free of charge. Such free innovations increase the social welfare of economies.

Curriculum Vitae


2013 Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, Ph.D. (Hon)

2007 Copenhagen Business School, Ph.D. (Hon)

2004 Ludwig-Maximilliams Universität München, Ph.D. (Hon)

1974 Carnegie Mellon University, Ph.D.

1966 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, S.M.

1964 Harvard College, B.A.

since 2006 T. Wilson Professor of Management, MIT-Sloan School of Management
Professor of Engineering Systems, MIT

Excerpt from:

Award ceremony, June 30th, 2017:

program ceremony (german)

program (german)


Prof. Dr. Nils Crasselt, Dean of the Schumpeter School of Business and Economics

Prof. Dr. Lambert T. Koch, President of the University of Wuppertal

Prof. Dr. Norbert Koubek, Chairman of the Schumpeter School Foundation

Jürgen Büssow, Former President of the Administrative District


Prof. Dr. Peter Witt, Chair of Technology and Innovation Management

Further information and current publications of the prize-winner can be found here:


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