The German cMDF consists of 3 partners: Fraunhofer FIT, MakerSpace Bonn, and ZENIT GmbH. All three work in the area of information technology, innovation and STEM education.
Scope and purpose of the cMDF
The German cMDF aims to provide novel services which are specially dedicated to industry’s needs. This includes the provision of trainings, coaching and workshop formats to support human-centric product development. Further working with the German cMDF enables faster access to innovations and guarantees a more rapid identification of suitable partners and projects.
The German cMDF addresses German SMEs in particular. These small- and medium sized target partners and stakeholders should be further involved in events, workshops and coaching sessions in a digital and physical way. The German cMDF acquires suitable companies via the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the largest business network in the world, and via social media, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Xing. A further pillar of the involvement strategy is the telephone approach, which at best leads to individual counselling (ZENIT's network of contacts are of great importance here). Similarly, an initial series of workshops has triggered more project ideas and, through word-of-mouth, new stakeholders are supporting and enriching the iPRODUCE efforts. Such workshops will ideally be held physically again in the coming months. It is also planned to communicate the options within the framework of iPRODUCE at upcoming (digital) trade fairs.
The main services offered by the German cMDF are:
Help master the challenge of going from idea to prototype.
Put users' product ideas to the test.
Give impetus to the search for innovation ideas through external perspectives.
Modify the product development process to be efficient, human-centred, and modern.
Support the finding of innovation partners and funding opportunities.
German cMDF use cases
UC1: Co-creation - Introduction for SMEs
Description of the use case
A company (SME) wants to renew their approach towards innovation. The goal is to get from idea to prototype in less time and to make sure that product development is more user-centred, effective. and modern.
"As-Is-Situation": The company has no defined process or methodology for innovation. Products are based on innovation created by the owner (or a small group of experts) and are rarely updated. The owner/ expert group creates prototypes using their private tools and simple bricolage methods.
"To-Be-Situation": The company wants training and/ or prototyping facilities within their region to renew their approach towards innovation. The company may also engage into a consulting process for co-creation. After training, the employees are capable of using the taught methods. This renews the innovation approach of the company, resulting in reduced time to market for new products.
The objectives of UC1 are to:
- Reduce time to market: get from idea to prototype in less time.
- Deploy User-Centred innovation process: make sure that product development. is more user-centred.
- Improve innovation quality.
- Improve the number of innovation ideas.
Via the iPRODUCE digital Open Innovation Space (OpIS), companies get in touch with the German cMDF (for matchmaking). The company's employees are trained by the German cMDF and may also engage into a consulting process for co-creation. The training lets the employees get a first grasp on the taught methods and the connected mindset. The consulting process can accompany their first implementation steps, in order to be able to apply what has been taught. The German cMDF would further support the company’s innovation process in a concrete innovation project if desired.
Via the “Live Prototyping” service, the company's teams are guided by FIT staff to define their challenges in concrete terms and to generate solution ideas based on this. Afterwards the best ideas will be chosen under the guidance of the FIT staff, concretised, and then prototypes will be developed. Employees of the Maker Space Bonn help implement the prototypes: techniques such as 3D printing, software programming or sensor technology can be used. Step by step, companies are supported in refining and improving prototypes.
Similar services are offered within the framework of nerd testing: prototypes brought along are tested and revised accordingly.
- The company has implemented a modernised innovation process.
- The company reduced the time required from idea to prototype compared to the previous situation (without a modernised innovation process).
UC2: Machinery training
Description of the use case
Maker Space Bonn is equipped with new state of the art machinery for prototyping and the printing of circuit boards. Thus, many people need to learn about the operation of this machinery as well as its capabilities for projects and how printed circuit boards can be designed/ included in projects.
The makerspace wants to establish virtual tutorials and sample projects to teach and train inexperienced makers about machinery, material and processing steps in a fun and immersive way, also to reduce the time spent on explaining repetitive information. They provide sample projects as well as learning material for inexperienced users.
The objectives of UC2 are to:
- For the maker: broaden their skill set and realize their ideas, enhance their skills with machinery and tools, build sample projects.
- Workshop facilitator: to preserve knowledge, reduce repetitive explanations, enable makers to build things.
Creation, maintenance and sharing of tutorials
The workshop conductor digitises their knowledge (material and machinery) as virtual sample projects using the Digital Fablab Kit. This virtual version is defined and updated as an immersive experience, involving physical material, tools and machinery, virtual trainings, explanations and step-by-step guides.
The tutorial involves multiple steps. The workshop facilitator records the steps taken during the sample project using, e.g., a video intelligence tool. If available, a digital twin of machinery might be included to understand the production process.
The workshop facilitator reviews and adapts the tutorials before publishing/ sharing.
Tutorials and digital twins are shared using the OpIS platform for overarching use if other cMDFs (or makerspaces) own similar machinery or want to test the capabilities before buying a similar machine.
The guides and tutorials are maintained by experienced users.
Application of tutorials
Inexperienced makers gain experience in working with material and machinery. They can work individually or create the sample project in a group. The maker space has established virtual tutorials and sample projects for teaching and training.
Makers follow the tutorial either on sequential or parallel tracks and increase their knowledge about the machinery, tools, materials, and working methods.
- The maker was able to complete a tutorial or training and advance with their project.
- The workshop facilitator had less repetitive tasks.
- Workshop facilitators and experienced makers can quickly prototype new sample projects and iteratively enhance them until it is fit to be published for inexperienced makers by using the Digital FabLab Kit.
UC3: Guided Product Development as a Service (GPDaaS)
Description of the use case
Maker Space Bonn (MSB) will offer Guided Product Development as a Service (GPDaaS) for startups. MSB experts will challenge the startup to carve out the unique selling point of their product idea, and will support and consult with regard to cost calculation, ramp-up and production. If needed, consulting regarding certification or other topics can be given by subject matter experts internally or externally (matchmaking).
The objectives of UC3 are to:
- Help startup know the obstacles it has to overcome.
- Help startup launches product to market.
- Help determine the fair calculation/price of the consultancy services (possibly via OpIS platform).
- Startup requests appointment with the cMDF, naming their needed fields of expertise.
- MSB suggests possible dates and ensures that people with the needed expertise are present at MSB's facilities. This is handled via a calendar/ know-how availability system from the OpIS for being able to give this reply (resource analysis tool).
- the startup pitches the idea to MSB and gets challenged on various aspects (e.g., use, production, cost, market, IP and legal issues, suppliers, QA).
- MSB uses the OpIS as a knowledge base for calculating the service price(s) using the matchmaking & agile network creation tool. This includes experience exchanges with other makers about similar services and considers regional differences.
- If the idea is valid, the startup works together with MSB experts on the various phases of market entrance.
- MSB experts mentor the startup and recommend third party consultancy, if necessary.
- Startup gets the product to market.
- Startup manages to go from idea via prototype to (ramp-up of) production inside the projected budget.
UC4: New Skilling/ MSB IoT Education Kit
Description of the use case
SMEs often have good niche products, but struggle with connecting these to the internet. The German cMDF will help SMEs to get their devices connected to the internet and cloud. The cMDF will provide new skills to the SMEs and offer cookbooks, recipes and workshops, supporting the SMEs with their coding and electronics challenges. Furthermore, an IoT education kit (hardware and software) will be developed and made available to SMEs.
This IoT Education Kit is an electronics development kit based on a microcontroller with internet connectivity, as well as a server side backend (cloud/dedicated) which is easily programmable. The kit can be used commercially. If needed, a second phase can follow the prototyping with the MSB IoT Education Kit, in which a custom electronics product (PCB) is designed and built in MSB.
The objectives of UC4 are to:
- Help an SME have a new product idea that involves connectivity to the internet, or
- Help an SME with an existing product that needs to be connected to the internet
In the end the SME will have a prototype for a (connected) electronic device.
- The SME gathers ideas, requirements, and use-cases
- The SME discusses the above with experts from MSB, gets feedback and orders the tailored “new-skill” workshop
- The SME gets the MSB IoT Education Kit as part of the Digital FabLab Kit and implements the product prototypically in the workshop setting. If needed, the SME is also introduced to programming and/or other needed skills.
- The SME can get further consulting, either from MSB or external consultants (via matchmaking).
- The SME has a general understanding of the skills and requirements needed for electronics/IoT development.
- SME has a prototype.
- The SME knows how to proceed to get the product to market.
- Matchmaking and know-how transfer if needed.