Collaborative Innovation: The Thule Helium Platform

Posted by Jim Sener on October 24, 2018 at 7:01 AM

In today’s complex and increasingly competitive business environment, companies are turning to collaborative partnerships to keep up with new product demand and acquire assets that can’t always be generated in-house.  

The immense pressure on companies to drive growth while negotiating with rapid changes in technology and a continually shortening innovation process has necessitated new approaches to strategic partnerships. Traditional avenues like mergers or joint ventures are time-consuming and labor-heavy. Instead, companies are forming strategic collaborative alliances where all parties involved are able to nurture mutually beneficial relationships based on trust.  

As most traditional approaches to research and development continue to decline, many companies are recognizing both the value and inherent possibility of collaborative alliances.  Put simply, great collaborations lead to great products, and a successful product in today’s competitive market relies on collaborative effort. Here’s why:

Collaboration lowers innovation costs

Collaborative relationships allow companies to share their unique assets as value offerings toward a larger goal, whether it’s utilizing design expertise to speed up development for a new product, or contributing tech insight for a device featuring IoT connectivity. This kind of collaborative effort can greatly increase productivity and speed up time-to-market on new products, saving companies from costly production delays or time stuck in technical hang-ups and troubleshooting. Whether it’s a recreational product or a medical device, collaborative innovation helps companies save money by optimizing the development process.

Collaboration drives growth

Collaborative partnerships can drive growth as companies leverage a larger pool of resources to develop products based on real-time market demand.  Tech-driven connectivity to customer data allows for a more robust, well-rounded decision-making process that ultimately creates value for both the companies and their customers.  

Partnerships between larger companies and startups can be particularly effective in driving growth and innovation.  Large corporations, while well-resourced, can experience difficulty with changes of direction and the risk involved with innovative projects because of complex internal structures and slow bureaucratic processes. Startups often prove more agile and flexible in this regard, but need the capital a large company can provide.  

Collaboration allows companies to focus on their specialties while acquiring valuable insights outside their realm of expertise.  This not only makes for better products, but allows for companies to think further than their own capacities when considering future innovations. This kind of forward-thinking approach is becoming an increasingly pressing need for companies trying to stay afloat in competitive markets.

Collaboration creates more powerful products

IoT technology has changed the landscape of innovation.  Now more than ever, companies are looking to combine their unique assets to create products that even a decade ago might have seemed outlandish or futuristic.  Collaborative innovation brings products to market that boast increasingly sophisticated capabilities, combining industrial design with tech expertise.

Perhaps at the forefront of this movement are medical device innovations that leverage IoT connectivity to help streamline patient care.  Included in this scope are smartphone apps that support device connectivity, such as the myDario blood glucose monitor. Similarly, devices like the Fitbit that gather and send personal health information offer researchers unprecedented access to data that can be used to create new hypotheses around patterns in disease prevention and progression.  

Collaboration builds creative solutions

Collaborative teamwork helps companies deliver solutions to practical problems. The Thule Helium Platform, a hitch-mounted bike rack, is the collaborative effort of IDEAZ and Thule. Many bicycle owners have lamented the scratches and wear caused by transporting their bikes on vehicle-mounted carriers. The Helium Platform, however, uses compression on the wheels to hold bikes in place. The rack doesn’t make any contact with the bike frame, eliminating the risk of scratch or damage.

As businesses continue adapting and changing in a fiercely competitive economic environment,  traditional “top down” methods of leadership are beginning to change. Collaborative innovation is becoming more and more of a necessity - and when you consider the world of possibility that these strategic partnerships can open up, the future of product development is tremendously exciting.product innovation checklist

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