Meant to be together

It’s almost impossible to create risk-less, innovative ideas that fit your existing market. It’s easy to come up with a few improvements and simple additions, but we all know that those ideas will soon lead to „me-too products”. Your lazy competitors will not hesitate to steal your new-born ideas. Unless you have a proposition that cannot be copied…

A great way to stimulate innovation is to look beyond your profession and to cooperate with another company from outside your market area.

An inspiring example of a business collaboration, is the unique partnership between two of the biggest brands in the world. The co-creation between Nike and Apple. Nike+ makes it possible to connect your shoes with your iPod (or iPhone). It gives you feedback while you are running or working out in the gym. The app records your data and gives you immediate feedback. Nike+ sends your workout data to the cloud so you can keep track of your progress.

Axis & Stuifmeel is a Dutch company that produces high standard electromechanical products. In 2005 they were approached by a young artist, Daan Roosegaarde. He was looking for technology to realize one of his designs, an interactive installation that would respond to the behaviour of visitors. Axis & Stuifmeel saw potential in the ideas. They gave Daan a studio inside the companies premises and access to all the facilities. Since that time Daan and Axis & Stuifmeel have created a number of unique artworks that have been nationally and internationally exhibited. (More recently Daan worked together with Heijmans to create his interactive and sustainable roadconcept called ‘Smart Highway’. )

Co-creation is a powerful way to incubate innovation. Joining forces with another company can be truly fruitful.

Collaboration can be used to create something original and fun that generates a lot of attention.

Fiat and Mattel where able to generate a lot of rumour around their brands when they launched the 500 Barbie. A sugar sweet car that comes in nail-polish-pink and features lip gloss in the glove compartment.

But of course collaborations can also lead to a new product that makes use of the knowhow and expertise of both companies.

Senseo is a Dutch invention by Douwe Egberts and Philips. A perfectly timed product that led to a global success. The introduction of Senseo in the Netherlands was so successful that it had impact on the overall coffee consumption. The number of cups of coffee consumed increased to an average of more than three cups of coffee per day.

Like every collaboration it doesn’t always work out the way it is supposed to.

Smart was initially an idea of Nicolas Hayek. The CEO of the Swiss watch company Swatch. He wanted to create a „Swatchmobile”. It was Daimler Benz, from Mercedes that was interested in the project (Smart actually stands for Swatch Mercedes Art).
Although the collaboration didn’t last (Swatch pulled out of the project because of a design conflict) Smart itself is still an icon today that holds a unique position within the car market.

Co-creation between companies is a wonderful way to connect opposites.

The Evernote Smart Notebook is a combined proposition from Evernote and Moleskine. It turns the old fashioned pocket notebook into a cloud-based archive that can be accessed with all your mobile devices. It’s a product that unites the old and new world and captures the best of both, literally…

Did you ever collaborate with another company? If so, what did it lead to? Was it something that both companies could not have done without the help of the other? Let me know in the comment box below.

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Photo © Daan Roosegaarde with his art installation Dune

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