There is not just one but serveral reasons why we liked this collaborative project between a big global automotive manufacturer as Ford, and a relatively new startup as TechShop, a membership-based, do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop and fabrication studio.
To begin with, it’s another good example of how industry leaders companies are increasingly needing the help of a much more small startups in order to keep up with its innovation needs. Big R&D departments, it does not matter how well funded, are enough no more for the kind and speed of innovation needed.
Secondly, this collaboration confirms the healthy progress of the kind of new enterprises involved in the “makers movement” pushing forward what some authors have coined as “the third industrial revolution”. Founded in 2006, TechShop has already eight locations in U.S. (and planning opening two more). They have created a community of creative people whom they offer access to high quality machines, tools and software worth one million dollars, from laser cutters to computer-aided-design workstations to 3D printers. So even considering this fabrication studio was doing well without Ford, the collaboration with the big car manufacturer means not doubt a big “thumps up” not just for TechShop but for any other similar fabrication studios as well.
And last but not least, this Co-project is part of Ford’s Employee Patent Incentive Program, providing Ford employee inventors with a three-month free membership to TechShop Detroit in order to easily and quickly build prototypes for almost any inventive solution they can conceive.
So after a whole history of more than a century of never consider outside ideas, a big manufacturer as Ford is collaborating with a startup in order to help them to inspire new inventions and ideas from the employees. As Bob Dylan sang, the times they are a-changin’.