Global product innovation project with Stanford and companies

Global product innovation project with Stanford and companies

Spaces for innovation is the theme in a global project where Stanford students and BTH PhD candidates are working together.


BTH and Stanford students are during autumn 2012 – spring 2013 working together on a project to develop spaces to support innovation. The project is part of the course “ME310 Global” (Stanford University, Mechanical Engineering) which aims to build students capabilities in design thinking by matching students with real life problems, and hence in collaboration with corporate partners.

After an exploratory phase that included benchmarking, needfinding and rapid prototyping, the students meet for the 2md time  in Sweden. During this week the students conducted workshops with companies in order to test some of the elements of that will be present on this innovative space with companies.

We aimed to verify how the different methods that will be part of the Kungshall experience will be perceived and received by potential clients” – says Andre Benaim, one of the project members. The students explained that one aspect of the workshop was about testing the technology prototype developed in the project at Stanford. The aim of the prototype is to help facilitators to have the documentation registered in a seamless way. Such documentation would be an easy way to register what has happened, as well to filter elements that will be used on later stages of the innovation process, such as prioritized ideas. Furthermore, the tool allow to have an overview of the process at anytime and for anyone interested, keeping relevant ideas safe and accessible.

Despite the physical tool is ready, the software coding needs to be developed. In this case we acted behind the scene as if we were the software, which allow us to see what we would need the software to do”, explains Jonathan Goh, one of the Stanford students. Another aspect focus on the in-between lines of the workshop was to verify whether participants would see value in the processes that was being used. On one of the workshop days participants were astonished that in 5 hours we have developed concepts we can work down to the requirements. Others confirmed the power of leaving the company to enter a space in which they can focus on innovation. A participant said; “If I was at my office I would be thinking about my work way more often, going to check emails on the breaks and hence not being so present”. The students were very satisfied with the results. The next steps for the project is to consolidate the concept of such a innovation space and finalize the tool development. However,  as the students say, on design thinking path things can change very quickly according to results of the rapid prototypes and testing. So, stay tuned for the final outcome in June, that will be presented at the yearly “Expe : Stanford Design Experience” at Stanford University.

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I’ve been collaborating with Stanford and the Design Division and for several years and now we aim at deepening the collaboration between BTH Mechanical Engineering and Stanford Mechanical Engineering to be able to offer continuous project collaboration in global innovation projects together with industry“, says Professor Tobias Larsson of Mechanical Engineering / Product Development Research Lab. He continues; “We are now scouting for projects with industry connection for upcoming autumn, and also interested students to participate. The projects are tough and demanding, but extremely rewarding.

Partners in the 2012/13 project are:

  • Volvo Construction Equipment
  • Michano
  • Blekinge Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • Rimfrost Design

For more information, contact Professor Tobias C. Larssontobias.larsson@bth.seProduct Development Research Lab.

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