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New horizons

Looking at the latest developments at JEC Composites in Paris this week, it is clear that the pace of innovation, integration and change in today’s aerospace, automotive, consumer electronic communities continues apace.  Mirroring this is an exponential increase in demand for specialist suppliers and experts.  So far, so predictable perhaps but when reflecting on 50 plus conversations over 3 days one notable pattern emerged.

A significant proportion of the greatest opportunities were in fact nothing to do with the initial discussion – only coming to light during unrelated conversation.  Often sparked by dialogue between disciplines, this begs the question – is it possible to systematically mine for these nuggets?

It’s certainly a challenge and one by its very nature that resists the stage management of brain storming.  Attempts to formalise the demand side through needs databases might address this to an extent internally but cannot function where the best opportunities are between companies.

As the online world proves, this type of multi-disciplinary speed dating is tricky to orchestrate particularly when opportunities come to light through a loose mix of subject matter knowledge.  Getting out of the office to test ideas, giving staff time to explore what are by definition peripheral technologies in unrelated sectors with acquaintances seems like a very healthy place to start.

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