In the spring of 2016, Elon Musk and his company Tesla stopped enforcing their patents, and Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM are all going open source with various robotics, artificial intelligence and phone projects. A trend is emerging: Is future manufacturing open source?

Christian Villum: Giants such as Google and IBM have lately been followed by Canadian D-Wave, the leading developer of quantum computers, which opened up parts of their platform in January. But it’s not just the large, financially strong American technology companies who are painting the picture of open source as a global megatrend. Start-ups and small to medium-sized companies all over the world, and not just within the tech industry, are creating new and exciting open source-based physical products. 3D Robotics, Arduino and the British furniture company Open Desk, which is creating open design furniture in collaboration with 600 furniture creators all over the world, are just a few examples of how open source has become the foundation of some of the most innovative and interesting business models of our time.

Danish Design Centre has dived into this trend for the past year; a trend which is part of a large wave of technological disruption and digitization and which is currently top of mind for many companies. How do you get started with digitizing your business model, and how do you know if open source manufacturing is the future of your company? These questions aren’t easy to answer.

Growth programme for curious Danish production companies

This is why we, in collaboration with a range of partners, have initiated REMODEL, which is a growth programme for Danish manufacturing companies who wish to explore and develop new business models based on open-source principles, and which are tailor-made to fit their industry and their specific situation. REMODEL demystifies a complex concept and helps the company develop economically sustainable business models which can open op new markets and new economies.

We do this by using strategic design tools, which make up the foundation of the programme, and which are based on strong design virtues such as iterative experimentation, the development of rapid prototypes and most importantly, focusing on the needs of the end-user. On top of this, REMODEL also involves a global panel of experts, CEOs and researchers within the field of open source, which allows the programme to pull on expertise from some of the world’s most visionary innovators.

Timeline for the programme

REMODEL consists of a series of design-driven stages. Last year the programme was launched in a testing phase in which the Danish Design Centre collaborated with a handful of Danish manufacturing companies, including renowned hifi-manufacturing company Bang & Olufsen, who went through early modules of the programme over the course of the spring 2017. These modules were reiterated along the way based on the feedback from those tests.

The key learnings from these test as well as workshops with members of the expert panel then became the foundation for the official REMODEL programme, which launched on February 5, 2018, and where 10 pioneering companies are currently working their way through the programme, which has been set up as an 8 week design sprint. The outcome is for them to have gained a thorough strategic understand of the concept of open source hardware as it relates to their industry and furthermore a draft strategy to open one of the existing products in their portfolio.

Radical sharing of knowledge

Learnings, tools and methods from both the test runs and the main programme will be collected and shared in a REMODEL open source hardware business model toolkit, which will be freely available after the program.

On top of this we will be organising a REMODEL knowledge sharing summit in October 2018, where participating companies, the international expert panel, prominent speakers and anyone else who are interested are invited to Denmark to share their experiences and think about the next steps for open sourced-based business models and strategies for manufacture companies.

Discussing REMODEL internationally

In March 2018, Danish Design Centre is yet again participating in the world’s largest technology event, SXSW Interactive, in Austin, Texas. We have been invited to host a panel debate as part of the official schedule under the title ‘Open Source Innovation: The Internet on Your Team‘, where speakers from Bang & Olufsen, Thürmer Tools and Wikifactory will discuss the topic in general as well as tell stories from the REMODEL program.

Learn more

Curious to follow the REMODEL program in more depth? Read more here or sign up for the newsletter. Eager to discuss? Join the conversation on Twitter under the #remodelDK hashtag or contact Danish Design Centre Programme Director Christian Villum on [email protected]

Originally published in

Lead image: Open Desk builds furniture as open design. (c) Rory Gardiner

Text image: CC-BY-NC Agnete Schlichtkrull

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