By Jaime Arredondo
Faced with the increase in wages in Western countries which pushes the relocation of industrial activities to emerging countries, Denmark launched the REMODEL program to help its national companies to create economic models based on an open-source logic. An experiment was launched with ten Danish companies Jaime Arredondo shares the feedback from these pioneers.
In 2016 the Danish Design Center, an agency of the Danish government, worked together to see how Denmark could position its industry faced with the problem of massive outsourcing of its production abroad, with the pressure that this implies for the labor market. How to respond to the challenges of having a small country that can no longer afford to manufacture at home because of the too high salary costs, but which has an extremely powerful design culture? The answer: helping Danish companies to develop with open source models that allow anyone to study, modify, reuse and even distribute a product as companies like the car manufacturer already do to varying degrees. Tesla, Baidu the Chinese giant which develops autonomous cars or Opendesk which sells furniture designed by its community of designers and manufactured by networks of fablabs.
Open-source models generally arouse as much curiosity as skepticism and insecurity. This is why, in 2018, the Danish Design Center made the bet to gather concrete and inspiring examples of international open-source successes, and to launch the REMODEL program to help product companies to experiment and develop open-source models.
- Thürmer, a historic manufacturer of industrial drilling equipment
- Novozymes, manufacturer of industrial enzymes and one of the largest Danish companies
- Stykka, a digital platform for custom office furniture
- Or Husum & Lindholm, IKEA designer partners who make urban gardening systems
Companies have used the program to learn how to improve their competitiveness, innovation potential and ability to profitably reach new markets using the principles of open source. By the end of the program, they had clarified the key questions of their strategy.
- How can open source benefit the business? For example, is it developing and innovating faster and cheaper, is it having a community that helps disseminate faster or identifying high-potential employees in the community…
- What can be opened? The design, software, hardware, or procedures data …
- Which communities could contribute to the project?
- What will be the motivation of external communities to contribute to the development of your project? Is it because they gain new technology? Or because they gain visibility? Or because it allows them to earn money?
- What communication channels should be created to interact and create value with these communities?
- Where can the company make money if it opens its intellectual property to the outside world? Is it selling physical products? Is it the creation of custom projects or maintenance? Is it the sale of additional closed bricks for professional players?
Two notable results
At the end of the first experience, two remarkable things happened. The first: out of 10 companies that have volunteered, 8 have decided to take the plunge and create a real open source strategy for at least one of their products. And the second: all the companies have testified that this new strategy would bring them between 130,000 and 1,300,000 € in additional turnover in the coming years or that it accelerated the adoption of a development and cooperation strategy that would have taken them several years.
Let’s see two examples.
The first, Novozymes, manufacturer of enzymes and microorganisms for industrial use, has long recognized that they cannot solve all their problems on their own. One of their big hurdles is working in an industry where aggressive intellectual property protection often prevents openness.
Novozymes had already tried to create a knowledge-sharing platform but without success. Their objective by participating in REMODEL was therefore to reconsider this project in-depth and by integrating all the stakeholders of their ecosystem.
The program helped them to go beyond a one-way understanding of the open-source and understand how it could apply to their business.
The result of their reflection is a community platform, Hello Science, which makes it possible to resolve challenges by sharing knowledge between academic players, startups and companies to break the knowledge silos that slow innovation and the creation of partnerships. This platform is a unique way for them to create connections between the organization and the outside world which can ultimately help solve challenges that affect the entire industry.
The second example is the furniture company Stykka, which provides custom furniture through its online platform to large companies such as Carlsberg, eBay or SAP. Their production system incorporates building blocks that allow them to manufacture quality custom products at mass-production prices.
Even though Stykka had long had the idea of creating an open-source strategy, the idea remained intangible and difficult to implement operationally.
So they used the REMODEL method to explore the potential of open source for them and see concretely what an open-source strategy could look like for them and how it could improve their business. The program allowed them to develop their idea in order to clarify, concretize and anchor the opportunities in relation to their existing business, such as allowing designers to take hold of their designs, but to make enriching and making the furniture catalog more attractive. In return, the designers, in addition to having access to quality designs, can also make their work more visible and recover royalties on the furniture produced on their designs.
The REMODEL method is obviously replicable and can equally benefit manufacturing companies outside Denmark. If you are curious and want to develop your own open-source strategy, you can go to Remodel.dk to find the sprints compiled in a toolbox, the use of which is open to everyone and available in Open Source. And if you want to explore the possibilities of designing an open model for your organization with a mentor, on May 23, 2019, there will be a masterclass at the Maif Startup Club with Jaime Arredondo. Click here to find out more.
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