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The process of user-centred innovation: how it can benefit both users and manufacturers

and how its emergence will bring changes in business models and public policy. Innovation is rapidly becoming democratised. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can develop their own new products and services. These innovating users - both individuals and firms - often freely share their innovations with others, creating user-innovation communities and a rich intellectual commons. In Democratizing Innovation , Eric von Hippel looks closely at this emerging system of user-centred innovation. The trend toward democratised innovation can be seen in software and information products - most notably in the free and open-source software movement - but also in physical products. Von Hippel's many examples of user innovation in action range from surgical equipment to surfboards to software security features. He shows that product and service development is concentrated among lead users, who are ahead of marketplace trends and whose innovations are often commercially attractive. Von Hippel argues that manufacturers should systematically seek out innovations developed by users. User innovation has a positive impact on social welfare, and von Hippel proposes that government policies, including R&D subsidies and tax credits, should be realigned to eliminate biases against it. The goal of a democratised user-centred innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for. An electronic version of this book is available under a Creative Commons license.

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