Mindset and Methods of Open Innovation: Workshop for Manufacturers

By Joe Torrago on October 28, 2016 | Topics > Advanced Manufacturing

Manufacturing Day Event October 7, 2016

I had the opportunity to both attend and present at a recent event held at the Champions Club in the Koch Arena on the campus of Wichita State University.  The event was organized by Wichita State Ventures and Development Capital Networks and sponsored by MAMTC.  Both Wichita State Ventures and Development Capital Networks specialize in helping companies commercialize new technologies.  The highlighted technology for this particular event is UAV/UAS, which stand for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Unmanned Aircraft System, respectively.  In layman’s terms – drones.  In case you haven’t noticed, drones are quickly becoming a much discussed topic on many fronts including regulation, technology adoption, applications, manufacturing, oversight and safety.  Experts predict drones to become as ubiquitous as cell phones in the coming years, so lots of reasons to hold a Manufacturing Day event regarding this topic.  Especially in a city like Wichita with strong ties and history in the aviation industry. 

The event was kicked off by Debra Franklin with Wichita State Ventures.  She was followed by Jim Troxel with Development Capital Networks.  Jim introduced the concept of Open Innovation, including the history and some great examples of everyday items such as dental floss and small butter containers that were developed through the process of open innovation.  A simple definition of Open Innovation is paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology (thanks Google).  Again, in layman’s terms, it simply means that companies can benefit by working together with other companies, including competitors, to advance both a product or process technology. 

I had the privilege of presenting on behalf of the Kansas City Manufacturing Network.  As the name implies, it is a group, of which I am a member, of about 150 manufacturing companies in the Kansas City area that share ideas about how to improve their companies.  This was followed by three companies involved in UAV/UAS and how they have used Open Innovation to bring their particular technology to market quicker and more robustly.  After a short break, Jim led the attendees, about 50 in total, in an exercise of helping Nexus Manufacturing, a fictitious manufacturing company, in ideating ways they could use the concepts of Open Innovation to help improve their organization.

For those of you new to Open Innovation, I encourage further exploration of the concept and how you can leverage this idea to bring new ideas to market or implement them in your process.  I would love to hear from you if you think Open Innovation has applications in your business.

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