Open Innovation Gets Your Motor Running

Published Jul-22-12

Factory Five’s design contest for the exterior of its new affordable sports car.

Factory Five, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Gets Your Motor Running One of the many advantages of open innovation is that a company can tap into a deep well of knowledge, passion and enthusiasm of members of the crowd wherever they may be in the world. Provided participants have access to the Internet there are really no barriers to getting smart ideas and neat solutions. They are all out there and can be accessed once you know how to reach them.

Seeking Design Inspiration

American automobile company Factory Five in conjunction with Grassroots Motorsport magazine hosted an open innovation contest to find a brand new design for its 818 sports car.

The world’s largest manufacturer of component car kits was looking for help on its project to create an affordable sports car that can perform at a level similar to more expensive sports vehicles on the road today.

Design Brief

The company had been working on the car for a number of years, and once it had finalized and finessed the engineering and running gear (ensuring that the power-to-weight ratio and center of gravity were perfect, for example) it was happy to hand over the design aspects to others.

The brief of the 'Factory Five Grassroots Motorsports Design Contest' was for participants to design their best compact roadster sculpted around a bespoke lightweight chassis designed by Factory Five. Would-be designers were asked to focus on the look and the shape of the vehicle and there a few guidelines to stick to such as:

• The vehicle had to be a two-seater
• Completion cost should be under $15,000
• No paint, gel coat panels

The target weight for the car was to be 818 kg (1,800 pounds) - hence its name.

According to Jim Schenck, Director of R&D at Factory Five the design goal behind the car was that it must be simple, lightweight, affordable, and easy to build in countries around the world. “The emphasis will be on handling and driving fun rather than on the 200 mph exotic or the everyday commuter”.

During the three month submission period more than 700 ideas were submitted and these were whittled down to 12 finalists. The overall winner was Nouphone Bansasine who picked up a check for $5,000 for his design. There were also second and third place winners who also received prize money checks.

Crowdsourcing Benefits

The competition gave Factory Five a clutch of great ideas and direction for the roadster’s body, and was a neat demonstration of some of the many benefits of working with the crowd and how it can make life a lot easier.

For example, the contest was a good marketing tool as news spread across the Internet drawing more eyeballs to the company’s website. And Factory Five didn’t have to spend time searching for top design talent as it came flocking to the competition.

The 818 is slated to roll off the production line sometime in 2013.

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