There are ideas which leave your mouth wide open when you suddenly realize the potential behind them. In Vienna, one such idea is just now materializing into reality. Industry meets Makers turns out to be an amazing development which connects two seemingly separate worlds. This creates a high potential to disrupt innovation processes and to create a whole lot of new creative work opportunities in the near future.
We have interviewed Sandra Stromberger, who is one of the key drivers behind the Industry meets Makers initiative in Vienna, about the maker subculture, the dilemma of the industry and how both could work together. The interview took place in the Kunsthalle in Vienna.
“A maker is enthusiastic about creating things but compared to the do-it-yourself trend, a maker does not refrain from using the latest high-tech gear to solve a problem”
The maker scene is a growing subculture of enthusiasts following the do-it-yourself spirit who seek to do projects in collaboration by openly exchanging ideas and blueprints while also sharing tools and high-tech gear. With their open minded and interdisciplinary thinking makers use those ingredients to combine them in new ways to solve problems where classical approaches fail or are just not viable.
The industrialization has detached people from the process of creation and production of goods for a long time now. It seems that the maker culture wants to reclaim some of the lost territory in the same way as community supported agricultures want to reclaim the food supply chain. It is a great pleasure to harvest your own broccoli, just in the same way as it is a great pleasure to 3D print a needed spare part.
“It seems almost impossible to bring both worlds with their diverging interests together”
A maker is frequently associated with hobbyist attitudes, inherently incompatible with industrial thinking. So, how would those two worlds fit together? To understand the reason why the industry looks at makers it is essential to remember a deeply engraved dilemma of the industry: Industrial organisations need stable organisational structures. But this stability hinders the preconditions for innovation, like creativity, open-mindedness and hands-on attitudes. That’s why industrial organizations try to create innovation supporting spaces inside themselves. Another approach is to acquire innovation by buying young companies with promising solutions. But this may turn out to be expensive, especially in competitive situations. And that’s where the maker culture comes in.
It just seems a natural idea to get a grab on innovative minds and ideas before they establish their own startups. But, what initially looks like a blunt recruiting or idea capturing system, gets a completely different twist in the context of Industry 4.0. In the near future, makers will play a significant role in the digital production revolution where the fulfillment of outsourced production and development tasks is not limited to smart factories. Makers will be able to offer their skills via openly accessible digital marketplaces and can bid for industrial requests. Additionally, for a maker it is a great opportunity to get in touch with industrial requirements and resources to show and grow her or his expertise.
“The industry partners need to be open to present current research goals in the public”
A special attitude is required for industry partners to participate in the initiative since it means to make internal research goals and detailed requirements public. This asks for a selected breed of companies which value innovation more than secrecy. However, the current list of participating companies on the homepage shows that there is a vital interest from the industry side.
“The goal is to build a community of collaboration with a fair exchange”
The initiative takes an eye on possible concerns on both sides in order to create a situation of fair collaboration between those not so equal partners. “My dream would be to see a new product or a new company coming out of the initiative”, says Sandra Stromberger as the closing statement of the interview.
So, if you already feel the maker in you, get ready for one of the next events of the Industry meets Makers initiative and also be prepared to join one of the upcoming maker faires here in town.
Photo credit: Cover image by Unsplash