Policies to Promote User Innovation: The Case of Makerspaces and Clinician Innovation

35 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016 Last revised: 31 Aug 2017

Date Written: August 23, 2017


As it becomes apparent that users are an important source in innovation in society and in individual organizations, scholars are realizing that user-directed innovation policy might contribute to improving social welfare. How such policy might be designed, however, is uncertain, as are the costs and benefits of such policies. It is also not clear whether there is actually a problem for user-directed policy to solve.

As a first empirical step to answering these questions, we report the results of providing hospital clinicians with access to ‘makerspaces’, i.e. staffed facilities with prototyping tools and the expertise in using them.

Findings suggest that almost all innovations developed in the makerspaces are user innovations; that the potential returns from the first 56 innovations developed in the makerspaces are more than tenfold the required invest-ment; and that most of the innovations would not have been developed without access to makerspaces. Due to lack of diffusion, only a limited share of potential returns is realized.

This suggests not only that there are problems of non-development and un-der-development that policy can solve and that doing so supports social welfare. It also suggests that provision of makerspaces is a effective form of user-supporting innovation policy.

Keywords: innovation, innovation policy, user innovation, healthcare, clinicians, makerspaces

JEL Classification: O38

Suggested Citation

Svensson, Peter and Hartmann, Rasmus Koss, Policies to Promote User Innovation: The Case of Makerspaces and Clinician Innovation (August 23, 2017). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 5151-15, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2701983 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2701983

Peter Svensson

Independent ( email )

Rasmus Koss Hartmann (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000

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