iNec - Innovation by Expert Communities in Times of Demographic Change

Innovations emerge predominantly through personal networking between people. Experiences, ideas, and knowledge are exchanged, discussed, and combined into new solutions not only on a conscious level but on an unconscious one as well. However, long-term personal networking and continuous exchange between colleagues dwindle more and more due to discontinuous employment biographies based on, for example, increased changes of careers. This leads to a considerable loss of experience and weakened abilities for innovation in many corporations. A flood of people starting retirement due to demographically strong age groups leaving active employment will dramatically intensify this trend in the upcoming years.

Based on the principles of social interaction in communities the aim of the group project „iNec – innovation by way of experts commnunities during demographic change“ is to develop a new concept for human resource development. This concept will facilitate innovative ideas by connecting employees and, for the long term, also systematically strengthen the loyalty of expert personnel to a corporation. This will make the loss of expert knowledge due to changing employment biographies and demographic change controllable and also function as essential contribution to a cross-generational dialog. Simultaneously, the innovative energy of a corporation is strongly enhanced. The result of the group project iNec is a model of relevant success factors that will serve as basis for developing a design that can be applied to other fields as well. This design will be tested and converted into a complete prototype.

During this project, the close cooperation between research and praxis partners should support the knowledge and experiences transfer among the employees of a business. To realize this interconnection and create a basis for exchanging experiences, mutual learning, generation of knowledge, and cooperation, a coordinator within the company as well as a control mechanism in the form of an IT platform will be used. The IT-platform will facilitate realtime communication via microblogging, setup of innovation forums, expert profiles, or virtual knowledge factories. The employees of a company will be approached specifically to join this in-house community.

Especially those who will retire in the near future, who leave the company temporarily or permanently, or who are geographically separated from the company are to be included. To get as many active participants as possible, incentive systems will be tested simultaneously. Additionally, control and roles concepts will be developed and experimentally implemented to ensure that the activities within this community will facilitate innovations within the company.


  • IntraWorlds GmbH, München
  • Human Computer Interaction Center (HCIC) der RWTH Aachen, Aachen
  • Forschungsinstitut für Rationalisierung an der RWTH Aachen, Aachen
  • GEA Farm Technologies GmbH, Bönen

Project website:

André Calero Valdez
Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and Usable Safety Engineering

I am insterested in studying effects human-algorithm interaction and their impact on safety.