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Driving Industry 4.0 forward with open innovation

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Driving Industry 4.0 forward with open innovation


Industry 4.0 technologies continue to make headlines globally, with a seemingly endless supply of new methods, novel tools and intuitive innovations revolutionizing manufacturing and production systems. This ‘fourth industrial revolution’ has been made possible through collaboration and multidisciplinary teams, leaving the traditional siloed approach to innovation in its wake. Companies adopting this fresh approach find themselves in the position to not only navigate the complexities of Industry 4.0, but also capitalize on the vast benefits on offer.

Breaking the shackles

Henry Chesbrough first coined the term ‘open innovation’ in 2003, marking a paradigm shift in how corporations approached the development of new services and products. Until then, companies largely operated in closed environments, relying exclusively on internal R&D resources. Although offering complete control over development, this traditional model is essentially obsolete for those wanting to innovate with speed and precision – and without breaking the bank. It appears the closed innovation model has, for the most part, reached its limits in a landscape increasingly dominated by digital technologies and smart devices, with companies breaking the shackles of siloed minds, opening their doors to collaboration to outpace their competitors.

The benefits of open innovation have been well documented, and it can:

  • reduce the cost of R&D;
  • improve development efficiency;
  • connect stakeholders at the beginning of the R&D process;
  • improve the accuracy of marketing research;
  • enhance synergies between external and internal developments.

Collaborate to innovate

These benefits can only be realized when companies foster collaboration and co-creation. Fortunately, in an innovative region such as the Basel area, these partnerships are never hard to find. Few other regions in the world epitomize the open innovation ethos so well, and Basel Area Business & Innovation is one of the leading organizations nurturing this mindset. If open innovation runs through our veins, then our Industrial Transformation team is the beating heart, central to allowing ideas to flow to success in this pioneering landscape.

A key part of this approach is the i4Challenge, which is aimed at supporting innovative Industry 4.0 projects across companies of all shapes and sizes, from individual entrepreneurs and startups to established SMEs. Now in its seventh year, winners benefit from an acceleration program between six and 18 months to address and solve critical business needs, as well as gaining access to essential industry connections that help to accelerate development. This competition is growing in popularity each year, attracting up to 70 applications from companies based in Switzerland and the Basel metropolitan area – including parts of Germany and France, just across the border – with around ten winners chosen each year. This year’s challenge is even open to companies around the world that are willing to relocate to the Canton of Jura, where they will be able to unlock access to the region’s strong manufacturing industry and innovation ecosystem.

Tearing down closed silos has unlocked unprecedented efficiency and productivity for companies willing to embrace this new approach, providing clear competitive advantages. Check out Basel Area Business & Innovation’s i4Challenge if you would like to accelerate your product development in the field of Industry 4.0, and follow this link to apply. But hurry, applications close on July 31st, 2024.

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