Airbus Helicopters: One Year ‘Open Innovation’
Already 35 applications received from SMEs and partners
Marignane, France, June 9, 2016: In its first year, Airbus Helicopters’ ‘Open Innovation’ program received already 35 innovative applications. These ranged from a new heat-transfer method to nanoparticle-based technology. The process favors proposals that show signs of advanced development. “The best situation is to see technology which has already been applied in a domain other than helicopters, such as from the aeronautical industry,” said Jacques Le Sauce, research program manager at Airbus Helicopters. “The lowest level of maturity we consider is to have a prototype or a real scale demonstrator. That allows us to imagine if we can integrate this technology in our products.”
In 2015, Airbus Helicopters launched the Open Innovation initiative, aimed at putting companies with innovative ideas in touch with interested parties at Airbus Helicopters. The initiative, which functions like a “match.com” service for technology, led to four new support contracts for technology applications. This month, a new website will streamline the process, making it easier for innovation to step through the doors of Airbus Helicopters.
The program’s concise application process has seen a healthy amount of success. Before Open Innovation, Le Sauce noted that suppliers and partners were often unclear of whom to contact to discuss new proposals. “The idea of Open Innovation was to make sure each proposal would be reviewed, and when possible, to organize a meeting with experts,” said Le Sauce. “It was a way to respond to the needs of suppliers.”
And suppliers responded in kind, submitting proposals which demonstrate the wealth of creative thinking on tap in the industry. Last year, nine meetings were held with applicants. “This is a collaborative process,” said Le Sauce. “That’s the first thing to remember in looking for new technology, because it’s the technology holders who propose solutions and we who evaluate them.” The expert meetings put representatives from different parts of Airbus Helicopters in a room with the external SME, promoting constructive exchange for both parties. “That opens the door for discussions among experts who aren’t from the same background,” Le Sauce said.
Collaboration of this kind contributes to putting Airbus Helicopters at the forefront of innovation. “I think we are one of the first in our industry to propose something so simple to use,” said Le Sauce. “And clearly open to innovative companies.”
Source: Airbus Helicopters