Here's one of the more interesting partnerships we've seen: Local Motors has announced that they're teaming up with consumer applicance giant General Electric "to launch a new model for the manufacturing industry."
Called FirstBuild, the idea is to combine Local Motors' crowdsourcing and rapid prototyping experience with GE's market access (and presumably deep pockets) to develop the latter's next generation of products—quickly, using both crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing.
Focused on speeding the time from mind to market, the partnership will leverage advanced manufacturing processes and an open innovation approach to engineering—delivering benefits for consumers and enterprise alike.
The partnership will source collaborative ideas online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers and enthusiasts who will focus on identifying market needs and solving deep engineering challenges to unlock breakthrough product innovations. As part of the partnership, a new microfactory—a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace—will be established where community ideas will be built, tested and sold.
I don't know what this new "microfactory" is, exactly, but I like the way it sounds.
Ramp-up's gonna be pretty snappy; though the partnership has just been announced, they plan on having actual appliances on the market this year, which seems pretty staggering for an old-guard company like GE. The inaugural project will start crowdsourcing this summer and it will be something cooking-based, with the FirstBuild community intended to submit, discuss and improve ideas for "select major kitchen appliances." And if you want to be part of that community, you can sign up here.