Incorporating the best elements from R&D Centers, Design Firms, Consulting Firms, Venture Capital Firms, Research Universities, and more.
What are Bonaparte Technology Centers?
Today there are thousands of centers, and millions of technologists working on cutting edge research and development. This is awesome.
However, not every new innovation comes out of new technologies. In fact, most inventions stem from finding new ways of using existing technologies.
The mandate of the Bonaparte Technology Centers (BTCs) will be to take off-the-shelf technologies and products, and repurpose them to address today and tomorrow's needs.
How Will It Work?
As with all innovation labs, BTCs will consist of interdisciplinary teams. Scientist, engineers, designers, artists, musicians, and more will be involved. Bringing together talent from across the board will be paramount to the success of the venture. Throwing together a bunch of like-minded people coming from similar backgrounds will limit the possibilities and stifle product generation.
These working teams will be formed for the purpose of an individual project and disbanded afterwards to maintain a continual source of new ideas and ways of thinking.
In addition to the working teams, specialists and workspaces serve as a shared resource for all projects. Experts in manufacturing, marketing, licensing, and business strategy will serve as advisors to ensure that projects stay grounded. Tools and equipment are centrally located to control capital expenditures and promote collaboration between teams.
A key component of the BTCs will be there geographic diversity. Each team will be made up of not only experts with diverse backgrounds, they will not necessary be colocated. A virtual collaborative environment will support the operations of teams in a seamless way. This will enable BTCs to bring together talent from across the world, without limiting influence to just those in a single city.
What Types Of Projects Will Be Pursued?
As the name suggests, BTCs are primarily focused on integrating technology into everyday life. While anything from a hammer to a particle accelerator can be found along on the technology spectrum, the BTCs aim to fall somewhere in the consumer electronics 'band'. Devices as small as watches or as large as solar panel arrays will be considered. Additionally, automotive and clean energy technologies are areas of interest.
Innovation for the sake of innovation is not the goal. Projects are only considered when there is a reasonable expectation of a commercial application. Just because it's 'cool' or 'would be awesome' isn't sufficient, as there are real problems that need real solutions.
There are a few requirements for all projects that helps to narrow down what we'll work on:
- They must have an identifiable market for sale.
- They must deliver on the promise of technological innovation.
- They must be able to be completed in 2 years or less.
Obviously, there are other requirements (legal, moral, etc.), but these are some of the key points that will make the BTCs unique spaces to work.
How Will The Projects Be Funded?
This is one of the more interesting elements of the BTCs. Once a project is ready for review, a committee of peers will determine the viability of a project. Similar to asking an investor for capital, the project lead will present their case to this committee to receive funding. However, unlike many other funding sources, once the funds have been allocated...there are no more reporting requirements. No board meetings, follow-up reports, etc. Innovators should be spending their time working on their projects, not defending them.
This more lenient approach to monitoring projects will require extreme vetting prior to funding, but that natural selection process helps to bring the focus on to those most likely to see commercial success.
How Will The BTCs Be Funded?
Although the projects will end with a final product for sale, the BTCs will not be manufacturing these products. In order to keep the possibilities open, a manufacturing line cannot be created for every single type of product. There are many other companies that can do this better than the BTCs ever will.
Experts with experience in mass production will be involved on every project to ensure the products can be built at scale.
The model will be one of licensing designs to other companies interested in these developments. In rare cases, a design may be kept in house and sold through the production of an outside manufacturing partner. Proceeds from license agreements and product sales will be funneled back into the BTCs.
Is This A New Idea?
Yes and no. The BTCs, like the products that will be created from them, are a combination of many ideas put into a differentiated package.
On one hand, this model takes inspiration from many sources such as design firms like IDEO, innovation centers like the McLaren Technology Center, and university departments like the MIT Media Lab. Also many technology companies have begun to spin out small centers that operate semiautonomously with purpose of avoid the bureaucracy that is commonplace in larger organizations.
However, the specifics of how the BTC operates are unusual, if not unique. However, the goal is not to be unique, but to be efficient and functional. Not everything needs to be a new idea, sometimes taking a different approach is what makes it work.
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