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The Goal: We want a bachelor/Master thesis which studies user innovators and understand what tools they use to innovate. This can be done using a case based approach by either building a database of cases or exploring significant cases in detail or both. More focussed questions could also be answered through quantitative surveys.    

The Background: One of the approaches used by firms for integrating user innovation and design ideas is through the use of ‘toolkits’. Toolkits refer to systems offered to customers which can be used by them to innovate through a learning-by-doing process and give their users some of the design capability and thus the toolkits do the job of transferring the problem information to user-innovators thereby reducing the ‘stickiness’ of problem related knowledge. Thus a user is provided with an offering that comes with a certain limited flexibility which can be utilized to vary its design.

High-end toolkits have been used by firms to ‘plant’ and ‘grow’ innovators among their user base. Lead-users using the toolkit have been known to develop modules which if proven to be popular and error free, get later incorporated into the standard versions of the products. Toolkits are also used for mass customization, where they are used to elicit customer preferences and include them into the product design. These systems have been described  as configurators, choice boards, design systems, toolkits, or co-design platforms. They cater to a highly heterogeneous individualized user demand where customers have been found to have considerable diversity in their preferences and are willing to pay a premium for customized and innovative products. 

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The Reason: Toolkits seem to be an excellent method for firms to provide users with more innovative and/or differentiated products. Firms using toolkits sometimes also specialize and develop business networks consisting of user communities and innovation intermediaries such as toolkit creators and toolkit managers. Out of the many interesting research aspects of toolkits for user innovation and design, It is interesting to look at these toolkit providing firms and identify how toolkits and their usage can give them an advantage over their competitors. This will give you familiarity with a popular Open Innovation technique and give an understanding to competition strategy and business models.