Article

Industry-specific Makerspaces: Opportunities for Collaboration and Open Innovation

Authors:
  • Bauhaus-Universität Weimar & University of Applied Sciences Mainz
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Abstract and Figures

The rise of the maker movement, including hackathons and fablabs, provides new oppor- tunities for companies to boost innovation by collaborating with creative, tech-savvy and intrinsically motivated people, known as makers. This paper connects open innova- tion and maker movement research by inves- tigating how makers and companies can work together within an industry-specific makerspace setting. We use a qualitative case study design and focus on the German photonics industry. Our results shed light on the expectations makers and compan- ies have when considering a collaboration, along with the perceived benefits and risks. Furthermore, we uncover crucial design factors for industry-specific makerspaces.
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... In the meantime, companies have also become aware of the potential of such digitalized innovation environments and are trying to integrate them into their own innovation processes (Zakoth & Mauroner, 2020). Large companies are taking the path of setting up their own innovation environments, but these are usually reserved for the research and development department, so that they cannot benefit from the interdisciplinary knowledge transfer and the innovation potential of their other employees (Lo, 2014). ...
... Some companies have already recognized the potential of such DIEs and have made various efforts to integrate them into their innovation processes (Zakoth & Mauroner, 2020). However, collaboration has so far mostly been limited to supporting the research and development departments (Ruberto, 2015a). ...
... Building on these findings, it would then be possible to revise existing models of cooperation and integration. The phenomenon of DIEs has already proven to support open innovation and digital innovation (Zakoth & Mauroner, 2020). With the help of the new insights gained it will be possible reach the long perspective goal of unlocking these opportunities for companies as well and thus address some key blind spots of innovation and knowledge management research (Nambisan et al., 2017). ...
Conference Paper
Digital Innovation Environments (DIE) as an umbrella term for facilities such as FabLabs, Makerspaces and Innovation Laboratories are already well known in the private and academic sectors. We focus on exploring the business aspects of DIEs and their role in digital transformation and creation of new opportunities for companies to increase their knowledge transfer and innovation capabilities. This research is dedicated to factors influencing the usage behavior of company employees of a DIE. From seven guided interviews, a total of 27 influencing factors in seven topics were identified through successive in-depth analysis and criterion-guided interpretation. These factors show the complexity of DIEs and at the same time lay the foundation for further research. In addition, they are a valuable insight for practice, as they can be used as a basis for developing new integration and cooperation structures.
... Some companies have already recognized the potential of collaborating with DIEs and have made various efforts to integrate them into their business[SBS] (Zakoth and Mauroner 2020). However, this collaboration is mostly limited to supporting the research and development departments of large enterprises [SBS](Lo 2014). ...
Preprint
The aim of this paper is to structure the diverse investigations into various Digitalized Innovation Environments (DIE) such as FabLabs, Makerspaces, and Innovation Laboratories and to identify the resulting potential for companies. In private and academic contexts, DIEs are already established as environments for fostering innovation and knowledge transfer. Taking into account a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, a total of four functions were identified that DIEs can potentially assume in companies. Based on this, both direct and indirect impacts could be derived and resulting research gaps were identified. These blind spots are supplemented by research questions on the structural integration of DIEs in companies. Thus, the paper provides an overview of the current state of research and reveals relevant research gaps, which contribute to a future structured investigation of the research subject DIE.
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New forms of co-working spaces and community labs, such as Hackerspaces and Fablabs, but also open science and citizen science initiatives, by involving new actors often described as makers, tinkerers, and hackers enable innovation and research outside the walls of academia and industry. These alternative and global innovation networks are test beds for studying new forms of public engagement and participation in emergent scientific fields, such as nanotechnology. The article shows how these grassroots and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or Do-It-With-Others (DIWO) research subcultures connect politics with design, community building with prototype testing, and how they establish an experimental approach for policy deliberation. We will consider a case study of a temporary, ad hoc and mobile NanoŠmano Lab in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which specializes in nanoscale materials and designs, to demonstrate the potential of prototypes and collective tinkering to become models for public involvement in emergent science and technology fields. This Hackerspace model of governance offers an alternative to the usual route of disruptive innovation, which starts in the R&D laboratory where it waits to be scrutinized by some government or regulatory body and be utilized by a start-up or mega corporation, and only then be safely taken up by the public. Hackerspaces operate through "disruptive prototypes" that create decentralized and nonlinear value chains and interactions between research, design and policy. Adoption of technology goes hand in hand with collective tinkering, and deliberation and assessment are happening simultaneously while prototyping. In this sense, disruptive prototypes can be said to support experimental governance. This policy closely follows some recent calls for "greater reflexiveness in the R&D process" via anticipatory policy and real-time assessment approaches, rather than more common, timeworn precautionary principles.
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This paper presents a framework for the classification of modes of historical development of normal design, and for tracing this development as products mature. Normal design involves the incremental development of an existing design principle. Designs are defined in terms of sets of explicit and implicit attributes, and the framework is based on a model in which design involves searching within a design space, subject to the requirements of a product design specification. Five modes of design change are identified: design parameter space exploration; improvement in understanding of design attribute relationships; change in product design specification; modification of the feasible design space; and adoption of a new design principle. These modes of change are illustrated by considering the development of automotive engine piston design.
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Open innovation has become one of the hottest topics in innovation management. This article intends to explore the limits in our understanding of the open innovation concept. In doing so, I address the questions of what (the content of open innovation), when (the context dependency) and how (the process). Open innovation is a rich concept, that can be implemented in many different ways. The context dependency of open innovation is one of the least understood topics; more research is needed on the internal and external environment characteristics affecting performance. The open innovation process relates to both the transition towards open innovation, and the various open innovation practices.As with any new concept, initial studies focus on successful and early adopters, are based on case studies, and descriptive. However, not all lessons learned from the early adopters may be applicable to following firms. Case study research increases our understanding of how things work and enables us to identify important phenomena. They should be followed by quantitative studies involving large samples to determine the relative importance of factors, to build path models to understand chains of effects, and to formally test for context dependencies. However, the evidence shows that open innovation has been a valuable concept for so many firms and in so many contexts, that it is on its way to find its final place in innovation management.
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Innovation is rapidly becoming democratized. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can develop their own new products and services. These innovating users—both individuals and firms—often freely share their innovations with others, creating user-innovation communities and a rich intellectual commons. In Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel looks closely at this emerging system of user-centered innovation. He explains why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all. The trend toward democratized innovation can be seen in software and information products—most notably in the free and open-source software movement—but also in physical products. Von Hippel's many examples of user innovation in action range from surgical equipment to surfboards to software security features. He shows that product and service development is concentrated among "lead users," who are ahead on marketplace trends and whose innovations are often commercially attractive. Von Hippel argues that manufacturers should redesign their innovation processes and that they should systematically seek out innovations developed by users. He points to businesses—the custom semiconductor industry is one example—that have learned to assist user-innovators by providing them with toolkits for developing new products. User innovation has a positive impact on social welfare, and von Hippel proposes that government policies, including R&D subsidies and tax credits, should be realigned to eliminate biases against it. The goal of a democratized user-centered innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for. An electronic version of this book is available under a Creative Commons license.
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