Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Arcimoto and Open Innovation


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I recently interviewed serial-entrepreneur Mark Frohnmayer, who is now the founder and President of an interesting company called Arcimoto.

Their mission is to develop ultra efficient mobility solutions: vehicles, electronics and software, to catalyze the shift to a sustainable transportation system. Arcimoto’s first product, Pulse LT is an ultra efficient electric commuter vehicle that strikes a balance between utility, economy and pure electric fun.

Arcimoto is working on the cutting edge in many ways and I wonder what open innovation means to a company like this.

Mark started out by stating that “as a vehicle developer, Arcimoto works with a large collection of suppliers, large and small to develop our products. Since our primary role is design and integration, an open, collaborative approach is a fundamental requirement at least to a degree. As we plan the rollout of our platform strategy we’re also looking to “available source” software models as well to continue to push the boundaries of openness.”

What does open innovation mean to Arcimoto?

I had to look up the term on Wikipedia for the common definition. To me, open innovation means focused inter-organizational collaboration and to some degree the willingness to engage the masses (crowdsourcing, etc) to participate in the innovation process.

Can you share how Arcimoto benefits from innovating with others?

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Literally. There are a lot of good wheels out there, and brake lines, and motors and batteries and controllers, and so on. Partnering with other organizations lets us leverage the advances others make into improvements in our own product offerings. We can focus on where we actually add value.

A smaller company like Arcimoto is often faster and more agile compared to big companies. Which benefits or opportunities can Arcimoto bring to bigger companies in a potential partnership?

Depends on the company. Materials suppliers can test cutting edge materials on small production runs with much greater time efficiency than an automotive line that has to scale quickly to hundreds of thousands of units. From a purchasing angle, Arcimoto’s products are tuned to the needs of most commuting drivers, so large companies can easily integrate Arcimoto products into vehicle fleets and meet ever increasing efficiency goals.

What concerns should small companies have about open innovation?

Being clear about where they are really adding value, and making sure such value is properly rewarded and protected.

What kind of people work with (open) innovation at Arcimoto? Do they have specific traits, skills or mindset?

The engineering team is the primary group within Arcimoto currently innovating with outside partners. Communication abilities are key, as well as a willingness to look outside of the organization for a solution.

Small companies often have limited legal resources. What actions has Arcimoto taken to get better deals and protect your intellectual property?

Like you said, small companies often have limited legal resources. For us that has meant having to prioritize which elements we choose to protect as intellectual property. We’ve filed for provisional patent protection for several elements of the vehicle architecture, and will be patenting the industrial design of the product as well. Although I see patents as useful holdings, our main focus is building the brand of the company and the products it represents.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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