Third-party funded project

Open Creative Labs in Germany – Typology, Distribution, Conditions of Evolvement and Policy Making (OCL-D)

Research Department: Dynamics of Economic Spaces

IRS Research Topic: Research on Innovation Processes New Social Practices

Project Leader within IRS: Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert

Project Team: Prof. Dr. Suntje Schmidt Juliane Kühn Dr. Andreas Kuebart Dr. Verena Brinks

Funding Organization: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

Duration: 08/2015 - 10/2017

The research focusses on the significance and potential of Open Creative Labs (OCL) as places of innovation and participation. The term Open Creative Labs refers to organizations that provide workspaces and technical infrastructures on a flexible and temporary basis. In doing so, they demonstrate a high degree of social openness and consciously bring together users in order to encourage and promote collaborative processes with creative outcomes. Furthermore these organizations particularly accentuate citizen involvement in the problem defining phases of research and development processes.

The research seeks to capture significant features of Open Creative Labs and scrutinizes their spatial distribution across the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany. The aim is to develop a typology of Open Creative Labs based on a differentiated description of their characteristics as well as an enhanced understanding of the socio-spatial requirement for their development. Further, the research addresses the time-spatial process of the unfolding of innovative ideas in Open Creative Labs in order to analyze the societal impact of Open Creative Labs. Simultaneously the researchers examine the structures and practices that allow Labs to become centers of participatory-driven innovation. Hence, it is the aim of this research phase to trace and identify the benefits and added value of utilizing Labs from a user’s perspective.

On the basis of findings from all three research phases the scientists will provide policy recommendations concerning the further dealings with the development of Open Creative Labs.


Coworking spaces, maker spaces and other kinds of ‘labs’ are typically seen as an urban phenomenon. Indeed, most of them are located in larger cities. However, they also exist in the countryside, and as an element in a comprehensive strategy, they could potentially help stabilizing rural areas suffering from demographic and economic decline. During an IRS seminar on March 19th 2019, Ignasi Capdevila from PSB Paris School of Business presented the case of a rural coworking initiative from the Spanish region of Catalonia. more info


Ibert, O., Schmidt, S., Brinks, V., Kuebart, A., & Kühn, J. Open Creative Labs in Deutschland: Typologisierung, Verbreitung, Entwicklungsbedingungen und politische Gestaltung
Schmidt, S., Ibert, O., Kuebart, A., & Kühn, J. Open Creative Labs: Typologisierung, Verbreitung und Entwicklungsbedingungen