Industry-specific Makerspaces: Opportunities for Collaboration and Open Innovation

  • 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). ...
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.
Full-text available
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.
Full-text available
In the last decade, social studies of nanotechnology have been characterized by a specific focus on the role of communication and cultural representations. Scholars have documented a proliferation of the forms through which this research area has been represented, communicated and debated within different social contexts. This Jcom section concentrates on the proliferation of cultural spaces where nanotechnologies are articulated and shaped in society. The intent is that of showing how these different cultural spaces - with their specific features and implications - raise multiple issues and involve distinct perspectives concerning nanotechnology. More specifically, the articles presented in the section outline and characterize three different cultural spaces where nanotechnologies are communicated: science museums, hackerspaces and the web. The overall section's argumentation is that the study of the communication of nanotechnology requires to consider a multiplicity of different cultural spaces and, moreover, that the attention to the differences existing between these spaces is a powerful perspective to explore and make sense of the varieties of ways in which nanotechnologies circulate in society.
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, in the US and the Fraunhofer Society in Germany have teamed up to conduct the first large sample survey of open innovation adoption among large firms that we know of. Surveying large firms in both Europe and the US with annual sales in excess of US$ 250 million, we learned many important facts that show the extent to which large firms are now practicing open innovation. Here are some of the highlight results from our survey, along with the section of this report where these results are reported: ƒƒ78 % of firms in our sample report practicing open innovation (3.1). ƒƒNo firms in our sample report abandoning their practice of open innovation (3.2). ƒƒ71 % report that top management support for open innovation is increasing in their firm (3.2). ƒƒ82 % report that, compared to three years ago, open innovation is practiced more intensively today (3.2). ƒƒInbound open innovation practices are more commonly practiced than outbound practices. The share of projects with an inbound component is 35 % on average. Only about 8 % of projects result in outbound activities (4.2). ƒƒCustomer co-creation, informal networking, and university grants are the three leading inbound practices in 2011. Crowdsourcing and open innovation intermediary services are rated lowest in importance (4.3). ƒƒJoint ventures, selling market-ready products and standardization are the three leading outbound practices. Donations to commons and spin-offs play a minor role (4.3). ƒƒCustomers, universities and suppliers are the three leading open innovation partners reported by survey respondents (4.3). ƒƒFirms are much more likely to receive “freely revealed” information than they are to provide such information (4.4). ƒƒEstablishing new partnerships, exploring new technological trends and identifying new business opportunities are the leading strategic reasons to engage in open innovation (4.5). ƒƒCorporate R&D and product & process development units report more autonomy in budgeting for innovation activities (5.1). ƒƒThe typical large firm in our sample spends US$ 2 million annually on open innovation, and employees 20 full time equivalent people to do the work (5.2). ƒƒOpen innovation is not much formalized yet, and cultural norms are as important for open innovation as formal practices (5.3). ƒƒThe biggest challenges in managing open innovation are within the firm. The change process from closed to open innovation is rated as the most difficult task (5.4). ƒƒFirms are not satisfied with their current open innovation metrics (6.1), though they are more satisfied with their overall open innovation performance to date (6.2). We discuss these findings and additional analyses in more depth in the pages that follow. Overall, our survey results paint a picture in which open innovation is on the rise. While firms are somewhat satisfied overall with their open innovation experience (and their satisfaction increases with more experience), there is plenty of room for improvement. For example, inbound practices are more commonly utilized than outbound practices. Individual practices are not rated all that highly in their effectiveness and individual metrics are not rated very highly either. We surmise that firms are still early in their use and understanding of open innovation.
Corporates have recently invested in company-owned makerspaces with the goal to skim the potential of makerspaces as innovation driver. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the first framework describing elements and the innovation-related impact on users of corporate makerspaces (CMSs). The CMS framework is based on a critical review of 116 scientific articles on makerspaces and the embedding of the review findings into the corporate context. A prototyping infrastructure, a community infrastructure and facilitators are proposed to be key elements of CMSs. Further, CMSs are suggested to have an impact on ideation, concept iteration during the innovation process and collaboration of its users. The framework on CMSs is based on a critical review of makerspace literature and not on empirical research data. This paper sheds light on key elements and the expected innovation-related impact of a CMS on the users and thus contains useful information for corporate innovation management on how to plan, build and implement a CMS. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first review of makerspace literature with focus on their elements and innovation-related impact. Additionally, the review provides the first academic definition of the growing phenomenon of CMSs and describes elements and the innovation-related impact of CMSs on its users in companies, which paves the way for further research on CMSs.
The maker movement has been touted as a harbinger of the next industrial revolution. Through shared access to tools and digital fabrication technologies, makers can act as producers in the sharing economy and potentially increase entrepreneurship rates, catalyze advanced manufacturing, and spur economic development. We develop a model of the maker movement configured around social exchange, technology resources, and knowledge creation and sharing. We highlight opportunities for studying the conditions under which the movement might foster entrepreneurship outcomes and discuss how research on the maker movement can deepen our understanding of entrepreneurial teams and corporate entrepreneurship.
Makerspaces are open communities for tinkering, innovating, and socializing: They are equipped with tools and training that support “making” by participants. It has been argued that makerspaces can be a powerful vehicle to enhance both innovation and innovation diffusion by consumers. This research note offers initial empirical evidence for these claims. Through a survey of 558 participants drawn from makerspaces worldwide, the study shows that the innovation rate is about 53% and that the diffusion rate is about 18% among these individuals – substantially higher than the innovation and diffusion rates found in national innovation surveys of general populations, i.e. individuals who innovate independently at home at their own discretion. These findings doubtless reflect both a selection and a treatment effect: Individuals inclined or motivated to innovate and/or diffuse, tend to join makerspaces; and once individuals do participate, the rich resources they find in makerspaces most likely will improve the opportunities to innovate and/or diffuse successfully. Since innovation by consumers is both personally and economically valuable, these findings support the case for further research into the nature of successful makerspaces, and suggest the potential social welfare value of public investment.
Conference Paper
Technical universities around the world are opening makerspaces on their campuses: facilities and cultures that afford unstructured student-centric environments for design, invention, and prototyping. Consequentially, there is a growing need to survey and understand emergent trends and best practices, to compare and contrast them. Towards this end, we have conducted 38 interviews at five university maker spaces: Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, Technical University of Berlin, and at Arizona State University. The comparison of these spaces highlights similarities and differences in the areas’ foci, size, accessibility, intellectual property policies, funding and staffing of the surveyed spaces. We extracted quantitative relations between maker space size and number of users, staff supervision composition and staff to user ratio. While larger makerspaces affect a great portion of the student population, smaller spaces appear to focus more on a specific user group, such as entrepreneurs, student clubs or tinkerers. Amongst the five surveyed, makerspaces focused only on education might limit access to students, while other makerspaces open their doors to a larger group of stakeholders, such as alumni, entrepreneurs or even the general public. Most of these makerspaces have single foci, either education, community, or entrepreneurship, with some emerging models of multiple foci.Total staffing hours per makerspace range from 20/week to 480/week, or on a per use basis 0.27-0.56 hours/supervised user. Accessibility and funding vary widely and should be evaluated based on goals and environment. Space varied from 0.5-1.7 monthly users/m². Equipment seems not to be as important as motivating and empowering members of the university community to build a culture. While the sample size is small, does not span the spectrum of university makerspaces, and does not address crucial cultural factors, this survey and analysis provides an initial dataset and metrics for large, research-oriented institutions.
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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.
Companies have historically invested in large research and development departments to drive innovation and provide sustainable growth. This model, however, is eroding due to a number of factors. What is emerging is a more open model, where companies recognize that not all good ideas will come from inside the organization and not all good ideas created within the organization can be successfully marketed internally. To date, Open Innovation concepts have been regarded as relevant primarily to ‘high-technology’ industries, with examples that include Lucent, 3Com, IBM, Intel and Millenium Pharmaceuticals. In this article, we identify organizations in industries outside ‘high technology’ that are early adopters of the concept. Our findings demonstrate that many Open Innovation concepts are already in use in a wide range of industries. We document practices that appear to assist organizations adopting these concepts, and discover that Open Innovation is not ipso facto a recipe for outsourcing R&D. We conclude that Open Innovation has utility as a paradigm for industrial innovation beyond high tech to more traditional and mature industries.
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.
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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