Leading multinational giant GE is no stranger to the successful use of crowdsourcing in its search for innovative products. The latest venture sees the company in partnership with the University of Louisville Kentucky, and crowdsourcing platform Local Motors to launch a co-creation platform to harness innovative ideas for the manufacturing industry. Operating from the University campus, FirstBuild aims to bring together students, designers, and innovation enthusiasts to collaborate on the development and construction of a new smart appliances.
The idea for FirstBuild was inspired by GE's recent successes through open innovation partnerships with GrabCAD for a lighter and sturdier jet engine bracket using 3D printing technology, and the platform Quirky through which users could access GE patents to devise new consumer products. This naturally led to a partnership with Local Motors, a co-creation platform with a global community of designers, amateur enthusiasts, innovators and inventors to devise hardware innovations through its network of micro-factories. This partnership also includes the University of Louisville's Speed School of Engineering whose knowledge and experience with 3D printing helped build the first 3D printed model of the human heart.
GE has a longstanding partnership with the University, employing over 6,000 Louisville residents to work at the company's 900 acre Appliance Park complex. The University's engineering students gain work experience at GE facilities whilst GE employees regularly work with the university's faculty and students on a variety of projects. The creation of the FirstBuild micro-factory is the next step built on GE's open innovation and university partnerships.
Firstbuild will be open to the public and from the 1st May will operate from an existing building within University campus. The goal initially is to devise smart appliances to revolutionise the future of cooking inviting designers, engineers and professionals to collaborate on new ideas. FirstBuild is also geared at creating an advanced manufacturing hub for the University's engineering students conduct research and develop practical training and skills. All will have access to GE iterations and designs from which to develop product ideas, or can come up with their own designs.
Image Credit; Les Chattfield