Eric von Hippel

T. Wilson (1953) Professor in Management
Professor of Management of Innovation and Engineering Systems


Eric A. von Hippel is a founder of the Entrepreneurship Program at MIT. His academic research examines the sources and economics of innovation.

Von Hippel is known for pioneering research that has shown how product lead users are often the developers of successful new products, rather than the manufacturers, as has been commonly assumed. This research, along with that of collaborators and others, is now triggering a major rethinking of how the innovation process works. The emerging view that users are at the center of the innovation process promises to bring about major changes in company business models and also in government policymaking on innovation-related matters. Denmark recently became the first country to adopt support of user-centered innovation as national policy. Von Hippel also has developed practical tools that are used worldwide to enable product manufacturers to more efficiently participate in user-centered innovation processes. In addition, he has founded and participated in several startup firms.

Von Hippel serves on numerous editorial advisory boards for academic journals and is an active researcher with a number of international collaborators. His most recent book is Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press, 2005). Copies can be downloaded free of charge from his MIT Website at

Von Hippel is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, was a fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and served as Sir Walter Scott Distinguished Professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Faculty Media

  • Greater Boston 2014 outlook: Entrepreneurial opportunity in the global innovation economy

    As we dig out of the first snowstorm of the year, we are reminded of one of the great appeals of Silicon Valley: the beautiful weather! And yet we both see having just co-taught a course at MIT...

  • Harnessing the Power of Extreme Consumers

    Welcome to the world of extreme consumers: the mavericks, outliers and downright obsessives that may shine a new light on how a product should be developed.

  • Humboldt Research Award for Professor Eric von Hippel

    Eric von Hippel, one of the world's most renowned scholars in the area of innovation research, has been distinguished with a Humboldt Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The...

  • Innovation Process Benefits: The Journey as Reward

    Organizations can considerably amplify the resources available to their innovation projects by helping volunteer innovators benefit from participating in the process.

  • The Age of the Consumer-Innovator

    Recent research shows that consumers collectively generate massive amounts of product innovation. These findings are a wake-up call for both companies and consumers and have significant...

  • The User Innovation Revolution

    According to innovation expert Eric von Hippel, users are often the first source of new products and that has important implications for businesses.

  • Innovation by User Communities: Learning From Open-Source Software

    Imagine product development without manufacturers. Today's user innovation communities are making that idea increasingly real. Open-source software projects, among others, have led to innovation,...

  • Innovation Process Benefits: The Journey as Reward

    When business executives and economists think about whether developing an innovation will be worthwhile, they tend to focus on the economic value of the outcome of the innovation process. Will we...

  • MIT Professor: Let Your Customers Drive Innovation

    MIT Sloan's Eric von Hippel says companies owe their customers a debt of gratitude. The reason, he said in an interview with the MIT Sloan Management Review, is that surprisingly often, ideas for...

  • Making User Innovation the Norm

    What if our organization's users had the ability to innovate products, services, customer touch points, customer satisfaction and processes with minimal cost, risk and hand-holding from upper...


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