The innovation process at the Innovation Factory begins with agility instead of the traditional creation of a technical and functional specifications document. Constructive trial and error methods shorten the route from the initial idea of the prototype and finally series production.
The RWTH Aachen Campus ecosystem offers businesses everything they need to create successful innovations. Experts configure the relevantly required competences. Individually or as part of a consortium, the protected spaces in the Innovation Factory environment promote innovation in all its forms – and that quickly. Anyone can take this alternative route to innovation, businesses can enter the innovation process in every stage at any time.
RWTH Aachen is home to 260 of its own institutes plus numerous external research institutions. Additionally, more than 400 companies from a variety of industries are currently actively represented on RWTH Aachen Campus. The number of companies is growing steadily, the ecosystem is expanding and competences are continuously broadened. Interdisciplinary teams of academics work closely with industry consortia on groundbreaking and visionary solution approaches in the existing and newly created centers to answer the core questions of our time with regard to the future.
But the concept of the Innovation Factory goes one step further: Its central focus is on a better, faster and leaner implementation of innovation. That is made possible with unique configurations of a variety of competences in the fields of academia and industry, hand-picked by experts from the Innovation Factory on RWTH Aachen Campus.
To do so, the Innovation Factory makes good use of the unique infrastructure on RWTH Aachen Campus. It offers access to latest technologies, state-of-the-art machinery and comprehensive testing procedures, which allow agile and direct implementations, live testing, validation and ongoing development in close cooperation with customers. Additionally, broad capacities for the manufacture of prototypes and innovative development environments feature prominently on campus.
During the first phase of the innovation process, the environment needed for creative thinking and working is created at the Innovation Factory. Companies and their teams are taken out of their comfort zone and encouraged to think creatively and productively. Any idea is a good idea here – the suitability for implementation is not a focus at this stage and the big picture is promoted instead.
The ecosystem on RWTH Aachen Campus provokes spontaneous meetings, peaks curiosity and stimulates impulsive interaction. The experts at the Innovation Factory are on hand to help in abandoning established thought patterns and embrace innovation.
Individual target groups are always a focus of the work done at the Innovation Factory. The experts work closely with the various businesses on defining the requirement and acceptance criteria of their customers and formulate the results concisely and meaningfully. The next step are acceptance tests with close-to-production prototypes and real customers, allowing an overview of initial user experiences and highlighting product issues for further development. Short iteration processes facilitate fast optimization efforts for prototypes. This authentic focus on actual customer requirements ensure optimal market positioning.
Experts can deduce the kind of challenges businesses face in the development process based on the defined customer requirements. The Innovation Factory focuses on critical, central functions and their implementation on the one hand and on dynamic progress and short development cycles on the other. The use of software simulations, augmented and virtual reality allows the intellectual processing of abstract concepts as rough ideas, which assists in the decision-making process of whether and how individual ideas should be explored further.
While rough drawings and initial models will suffice at the very start of the innovation process, complex manufacturing and testing technologies will be needed later on. The Innovation Factory offers a comprehensive infrastructure on RWTH Aachen Campus, providing everything needed for the creation of function and design prototypes. Minimum viable products that comply with relevant core functionality requirements are created and live tested in order to allow potential customers to experience innovative products first hand.
The experts at the Innovation Factory work closely with businesses on tailor-made complexity management, put together machine parks and ensure, based on their expertise in the area of factory planning, that companies can take the next step towards mass production of their new products with unique solutions.
Depending on the product, the jump from prototype to mass production may not be possible in a single step. Start-up management experts will work their way through each of the intermediary steps in close collaboration with the companies.
Managing Director of RWTH Aachen Campus GmbH
Niklas Kessler, Hannes Caroli, Martin Lenart, Judith Maibaum, Themo Voswinckel, Dr. Casimir Ortlieb, Maximilian Kuhn, Dr. Christian Dölle, Johannes Schmadtke