Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society

Digital technologies are fundamentally changing our economy and society. They are upending many traditional ways of doing business and at the same time opening up new economic and societal opportunities. Researchers in our group conceptualise and theorise these transformations while also delivering practical and applied knowledge in innovative formats for practitioners and policy makers.

The HIIG Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society Group (IES) embraces these diverse developments. Our aim is to understand, inform and co-create innovation and entrepreneurship in a rapidly changing, globally interconnected digital economy and society.

IES was founded based on three years of action research within HIIG’s Startup Clinics, followed by several sector-specific research projects on topics such as digital transformation, artificial intelligence, digital platforms and the future of work. Our current work builds on this legacy, focusing on four research areas, through which we investigate the mechanisms and enablers of digital innovation and entrepreneurship at different analytical levels:

Digital Technologies & Value Creation

How do organisations create economic and social value using digital technologies and artificial intelligence? How can innovative formats and methods be used to transfer knowledge successfully between research and business?

Collaboration & Openness

What opportunities and challenges are arising from open source and open innovation? How can startups effectively collaborate with communities and established companies?

Platforms & Ecosystems

How are new paradigms of the digital economy, such as platform capitalism and the sharing economy, impacting traditional economic actors, structures and business models? What are the risks, opportunities, and alternatives?

Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

How does digitisation influence social innovation and social entrepreneurship? How do organisations tackle grand societal challenges – especially in times of crisis? 

Research approach

In line with HIIG’s mission, we aim to pioneer interdisciplinary research and promote unconventional approaches in the area of innovation, entrepreneurship and society. We conduct theoretically grounded research and seek to co-create societal and economic value together with businesses, policymakers and the public. To achieve this, we develop novel research approaches and use new technologies and methodologies. Our work is participatory and collaborative, ensuring that joint learning and knowledge transfer happen continuously and consistently. This approach helps us keep up with the novelty, complexity and dynamism of the digital economy.

For more information, read our brochure.

  • Entrepreneurship and innovation

    Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

    In the “Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship” research project, we investigate entrepreneurial organisations that primarily focus on society – often called social enterprises. We...
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation

    Data Cooperation Platforms for SMEs

    Large digital platforms from the USA and China have dominated digital markets across industries and countries. They quickly became the most valuable companies in...
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation · Media and data

    Platform Alternatives

    How can Europe’s digital platform economy be governed to achieve fairer results for all stakeholders? The Platform Alternatives project analyses the structural effects of...
  • Wissensarbeit | HIIG
    Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    Artificial Intelligence & Knowledge Work – Implications, Opportunities And Risks

    The research project focuses on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications in the intraorganizational workplace of knowledge workers. The project investigates with which...
  • Dewmystifying AI
    Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    Demystifying AI in entrepreneurship

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to sustainably change how value is created in all sectors. In order to tab into this potential for...
  • Task Force Plattformökonomie
    Entrepreneurship and innovation

    Task Force: European Platform Economy

    The “Task Force European Platform Economy” is a group of HIIG researchers who study the implications of global platformisation for European actors and institutions....
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    Competing and complementing – The relation of Co-determination and new participatory platforms within companies

    In our project “Competing and complementing – The relation of co-determination and new participatory platforms within companies” we do research on workers participation on...
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation · Science and education


    OPEN!NEXT – Open and community-based innovation processes Recent socio-technological evolutions in Europe and around the globe show: product innovation is not the exclusive remit...
  • Gemeinsam digital
    Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    Gemeinsam Digital

    _Gemeinsam digital, the Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Berlin, is a central contact point for all companies in Berlin and nationwide that have questions about digitization. Our...
  • Innovation Entrepreneurship
    Entrepreneurship and innovation · Science and education

    Entrepreneurship Research Lab (completed)

    Our Innovation and Entrepreneurship team is a transdisciplinary group of researchers at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society (HIIG).

Completed research projects

  • Digitale Innovation im Mittelstand
    Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    Digital Innovation in German mid-sized businesses

    Digitalisation brings new opportunities and growth potential, especially for the German Mittelstand. What kind of activities and strategies are pursued when it comes to...
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    How to collaborate with startups?

    Joint innovation projects by corporates and startups are being supported by ongoing digitalisation. These collaborative approaches consist of different engagement models such as startup...
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation · Society and culture

    User innovation in smart energy technologies

    Interconnected, intelligent energy systems are a highly discussed issue. Such systems are used by customers to control and measure their energy us-age.
  • dwerft
    Entrepreneurship and innovation · Media and data


    In March 2014, a three-year research project on new technologies for digital moving images will start in Babelsberg: the »dwerft«.

Lectures and presentations

Varieties of Platform Strategy: An Exploratory Study of European Enterprises
Workshop Regulating work in the platform economy (Session: The effects of the platform economy: business models and value chains). Hertie School, Berlin (online), Germany: 27.05.2020

Nicolas Friederici

Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa: Last Mile Platforms and Other Localized Business Models
GIZ.Digital Gateway Online Event. GIZ, Bonn (online), Germany: 27.03.2020

Nicolas Friederici

Economic Geographies of the Digital. Universität Bayreuth. Weizenbaum Institut, Berlin, Deutschland: 24.01.2020

Nicolas Friederici

Was steckt eigentlich hinter dem Begriff „Künstliche Intelligenz"?
Deutsche Wohnen SE:. Deutsche Wohnen SE. Deutsche Wohnen SE, Berlin, Germany: 30.09.2019

Thomas Schildhauer

How can startups collaborate and engage with corporates
Startup Class 2019 (Session: Digitales Lernzentrum from Facebook). Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin. Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 20.09.2019 Further information

Thomas Schildhauer

Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa. BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway: 13.09.2019

Nicolas Friederici

An exploration for value capture mechanisms in platform-orchestrated networks
International Conference on Design and Technology. Technion, Haifa, Israel: 18.06.2019 Further information

Philip Meier

Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa: Escaping from Silicon Valley’s Long Shadow
World Bank Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation Global Practice. World Bank, Washington, D.C., USA: 21.05.2019

Nicolas Friederici

Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa: How a Continent Is Escaping from Silicon Valley’s Long Shadow. Quello Center, Michigan State University, Michigan, U.S.A.: 20.05.2019 Further information

Nicolas Friederici

The Platformization of Everything
Presentation. Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, Haas Business School, University of California, Berkeley, USA: 22.04.2019 Further information

Philip Meier

Colloquium Development Geography (Session: Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa: Escaping from Silicon Valley’s Long Shadow). Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 01.02.2019

Nicolas Friederici

Blockchain-enabled value creation between multiple parties: A transaction cost perspective.
World Open Innovation Conference (Session: Digital Transformation). UC Berkeley, Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation. Berkeley Haas, Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, San Francisco, USA: 13.12.2018 Further information

Jessica Schmeiss, Katharina Hölzle, Robin Tech

"Kooperation zwischen Startups und Mittelstand"
Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum Regionalkonferenz Berlin. Gemeinsam Digital: Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum. Mercure Hotel Berlin Tempelhof, Berlin, Germany: 08.11.2018

Philip Meier

Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa
Management Research Seminar: Lecture on Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa. WU Wien, Vienna, Austria: 06.11.2018 Further information

Friederici, N.

Künstliche Intelligenz und neue Formen der Arbeit
Think Big Camp XXL. Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung. O2-Tower, Munich, Germany: 19.10.2018 Further information

Shirley Ogolla

Smart Energy in Deutschland – Wie Nutzerinnovationen die Energiewende voranbringen
HEA-Tagung 2018 - Märkte.Partner.Energie (Session: Energie smart nachgefragt). Umweltforum Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 19.09.2018

Matti Große

Determining Datamining - A Marxist perspective
MyData Conference 2018 (Session: Debating Rights and Responsibilities). Open Knowledge Foundation Finland. Kulturittaallo, Helsinki, Finland: 29.08.2018

Christopher Olk

The governance of open business models through blockchain technology
R&D Management Conference 2018 (Session: Digitally-enabled business model innovation). Politecnico di Milano. Politecnico di Milano School of Management, Milan, Italy: 02.07.2018 Further information

Jessica Schmeiss, Robin Tech, Jonas Kahlert

Surviving Social Media In The Workplace: A Kit
re:publica 2018. Station Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 03.05.2018 Further information

Shirley Ogolla

Triggers of collaborative prototyping: A netnographic study of user innovation in open source hardware communities
15th International Open and User Innovation Conference (Session: Communities: User Innovation and Open Source 1). University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria: 12.07.2017

Matti Große

Identification and Classification of User Innovation: Implications for Future Research
15th International Open and User Innovation Conference (Session: Innovation Policy). University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria: 11.07.2017

Jakob J. Korbel, Matti Große

Consequences of digitalization for service innovation theories: conceptual ideas and implications for future research
16th International Schumpeter Society Conference (Session: The Digital Economy). International Schumpeter Society. Hotel Bonaventure, Montéal, Canada: 07.07.2016

Matti Große


Brave new world?! Opportunities and challenges for sustainable development in the digital age
Gronen 2020 - All Systems go?! Sustainability in the Digital Age. Group for Research on Organizations and the Natural Environment, Lisbon (online), Portugal: 17.06.2020 Further information

Ali Aslan Gümüşay

Leibniz Media Lunch Talk: Der Corona-Effekt: Pandemiebekämpfung durch digitale Medien in China und Europa. Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI). Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI), Hamburg, Germany: 28.04.2020 Further information

Jörg Pohle, Tina Krell, Deniz Erden

The Effects of Automation on Employment, Wages, and Inequality in Germany. American Academy. American Academy, Berlin, Germany: 09.12.2019 Further information

Thomas Schildhauer

Kampf der Plattform-Giganten – wie sieht der deutsch-europäische Weg aus?
11. Internet Governance Forum Deutschland. Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft & Energie, Berlin, Germany: 11.09.2019 Further information

Nicolas Friederici

Organisation of events

Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Common Good
Collaborative Open Course for Master Programs in Business Administration, Management and Organisation Studies. 16.04.2020. Organising in Times of Crisis, Innsbruck, Austria (International) Further information

Ali Aslan Gümüsay

‘God at Work’: Engaging Central and Incompatible Institutional Logics through Elastic Hybridity
07.01.2020. Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany (National) Further information

Ali Aslan Gümüsay


Member of the Advisory Board: BMBF project Africa digital in cooperation with technopolis group and konnektiv.

Nicolas Friederici

Member of DFG Network Digital Strategizing.

Ali Aslan Gümüşay

Principal Investigator: DFG Network “Grand Challenges & New Forms of Organizing”.

Ali Aslan Gümüsay

Jury member: Diamond Star (Handelsblatt-Tagung).

Thomas Schildhauer