Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Digital technologies are fundamentally changing our society and economy, as they offer new pathways towards economic opportunity while upending many traditional ways of doing business. Digitisation is fast-evolving and makes its presence felt in most parts of the economy, pushing innovation and entrepreneurship researchers to develop and communicate relevant and applicable knowledge at an accelerated pace and through new formats.

The HIIG Innovation & Entrepreneurship Group (IEG) embraces this challenge. Our aim is to understand, inform and co-create innovation and entrepreneurship in a rapidly changing, globally interconnected digital economy.

IEG was founded based on three years of action research within the context of HIIG’s Startup Clinics, followed by several sector-specific research projects. Our current work builds on this legacy, focusing on three work streams that investigate the mechanisms and enablers of digital innovation and entrepreneurship at different levels:

Icon Mine: capture & distribution

Value Creation and Capture

How do firms and users create value through digital technologies, and how can individual actors capture their fair share?

Icon: Hands exchanging apples

Collaboration and Openness

What challenges and opportunities arise from open innovation in traditional sectors? What are the most effective ways for startups to collaborate with SMEs and corporations?

Icon: Puzzle

Ecosystems and Structures

How do new paradigms of the digital economy, such as platform capitalism and sharing economy, affect traditional economic actors and structures? What are the risks and opportunities?

Research approach

In line with HIIG’s mission, we pioneer interdisciplinary research and promote unconventional approaches that are open to all parts of society. The research group’s goal is to not limit itself to studying innovation and entrepreneurship at arms length; instead we seek to co-create societal and economic value together with businesses, policymakers and the public. To achieve this, we pioneer research approaches that would not fit at traditional academic institutions, adapting to technological change and customising projects to stakeholders’ demands. 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.

Read our brochure for more information.

Research projects
Conference contribution and other activities
Research projects

  • Digitale Innovation im Mittelstand
    Entrepreneuship 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...
  • 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...
  • Entrepreneuship and innovation · Innovation · Science and education


    The meaning of Open Source Innovation for the future firm Open Source Innovation (OSI) is an important topic for firms today. At present, most...
  • Gemeinsam digital
    Innovation · Society and Culture

    Gemeinsam Digital – SME 4.0

    Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) are the backbone of the German economy but many struggle to define a digital strategy and leverage competitive advantages...
  • Entrepreneuship and innovation · 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.
  • Innovation Entrepreneurship
    Innovation · Science and education

    Entrepreneurship Research Lab

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

Completed research projects

  • 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...
  • dwerft
    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«.





Richter, N., Jackson, P., Schildhauer, T. (2018). Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership – Preparing for a digital future. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Publication details

Journal articles and conference proceedings

Jackson, P., Dobson, P., & Richter, N. (2017). The situational logic of entrepreneurship: a realist approach to national policy. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 1-24. Publication details

Dopfer, M., Grafenstein v., M., Richter, N., Schildhauer, T., Tech, R., Trifonov, S., & Wrobel, M. (2015). Fördernde und Hindernde Faktoren Für Internet-Enabled Startups (Supporting and Hindering Factors for Internet-Enabled Startups). HIIG Discussion Paper Series, 2015(06). Publication details

Book contributions and chapters

Sauer, R., Dopfer, M., Schmeiss, J., & Gassmann, O. (2016). Geschäftsmodell als Gral der Digitalisierung. In O. Gassmann & P. Sutter, Digitale Transformation im Unternehmen gestalten (pp. 15-26). München, Deutschland: Hanser Verlag. Publication details

Other publications

Wrobel, M., Schildhauer, T., & Preiß, K. (2017). Kooperationen zwischen Startups und Mittelstand. Learn. Match. Partner. Eine Studie des Alexander von Humboldt Instituts für Internet und Gesellschaft. Publication details


Conference contribution and other activities

Lectures and presentations

"Kooperation zwischen Startups und Mittelstand"
Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzenter Regionalkonferenz Berlin. Gemeinsam Digital: Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum. Mercure Hotel Berlin Tempelhof, Hermannstr. 214-216, 12049 Berlin, 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

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

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

Shirley Ogolla


Jury member: Diamond Star (Handelsblatt-Tagung).

Thomas Schildhauer