We are a relatively young company…the crumbs of our first birthday cake only very recently swept away. CW Applied Technology was conceived to be a partner for inventors, SMEs and multi-nationals in the tech arena, to provide both electronic design services and electronic manufacturing services. In an industry in love with acronyms, we are an ODM rather than a classic CEM! Central to my motivation is establishing CW Applied Tech was a desire to give something back…help inventors and creatives alike to get their ideas on tech. products out of their heads and into the sunlight.
Ireland is known around the world for our creativity in the arts…the literary arts in particular. I’ve long held the belief that we are extraordinarily creative also when it comes to ‘making things’. This, like so much else, probably has its roots in our history. I grew up in an era when, if something broke, the reaction could not be to rush out and buy a replacement. The immediate reaction was ‘how do I fix it?’. I witnessed this many times with my own father when I was growing up and truth be told, many of the ‘fixed-it’ solutions were a step up from the original. That’s not to say they were polished and buffed and ready for the shop shelf. They were often rough and ready but functionally, an improvement on the original. None of those solutions were of course patented or pitched to investors! They were one off solutions to real problems that once in place could be left ‘work away’ while life continued on its way. Farmers of a certain age will know exactly what I mean because farmers were and, to a large extent still are, the most creative when it came to fixing something that was broken and indeed coming up with ingenious solutions to real problems where no solutions had existed previously.
Nowadays, those solutions are more likely to find their way to shop shelves somewhere. Perhaps a shining example currently from the farming sector is the recently launched MooCall product. Every farmer I speak with who has invested in a MooCall unit or two, raves about the impact it has had for him. This is a product that was conceived of by a farmer, Niall Austin in Offaly and is now finding its way on to agricultural stores shelves around the world. And agriculture is far from alone in displaying its creativity when it comes to new technology. Prior to launching CW Applied Technology, I was well aware of activity going on around the country in product development. The 12 months since our launch has left me gobsmacked at the absolute torrent of new product developments being undertaken here presently. And even beyond those developments that are already underway are thousands of other product ideas, some wacky and maybe no less brilliant because of that but always, always evidence of creative genius. I know because they talk to me about those product ideas!
It is primarily for those inventors/creatives..the ‘crazy ones’ as Steve Jobs might have referred to them as that we started what we call our Ideation sessions. We started this in late 2015 and the basic premise is this:- On a Saturday morning, starting at 10 am and concluding at 12 noon, we invite into our creative space room in our site in Shannon an entrepreneur/inventor/ startup company who start by having 1 minute to explain to a panel of 12 invited guests what it is they have invented or want to bring to market. After that minute, our facilitator will ask them a series of questions aimed at clearly setting out what their current difficulty is and what they want to achieve from the session. The facilitator then sets out how she proposes to run the session and organises the team of 12 into sub groups to start to review the issues etc. The team of 12 has been invited individually by us and are invariably experienced, knowledgeable people. The make-up of the team we invite will be dictated by what ‘issue’ the inventor is bringing to the table and what he/she wants to get from the session. If it’s an engineering question for example, the team will be top heavy with experienced engineers. If it’s a marketing question, top heavy with experienced marketing specialists. Always the team will bring vast, relevant experience and approaches the session in the spirit of wanting to help the inventor move forward. We don’t commit to solving their problems or claim to be experts..just to giving what advice we can. We don’t charge the start-ups for these sessions….it’s us providing a room and volunteering effort to encourage hardware start-ups to take root here in Ireland…doing what we can at least to encourage it.
So this is an entirely voluntary effort, provided at no charge to the start-ups or anyone else. So usually at this point when I speak about this initiative at any event/forum there is a little silence and then the braver say ‘Why?’ The answer is very simple..because its needed. We have ran 7 sessions at this point and in each case I think I can safely say, the inventors has been delighted with the support and help they have received. I strongly believe that we can all give something back. ‘Give something back’, ‘Pay it forward’ etc is not the sole preserve of the wealthy. People like JP McManus do fantastic philanthropic work and long may he and they continue to do so. But the absence of large finances is not an excuse for the rest of us to not reach out and help those we can help. We have long heard that the lifeblood of the Irish economy is in then SME sector. In our own small way, through our Ideation sessions, CW Applied Technology is doing its bit to help strengthen that sector for the future.
If you are interested in being a member of the ‘team of 12’ or indeed have a product idea that has some element of electronic hardware involved, get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help.
Originally Published on LinkedIn June 15 2016 ( https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ideationthe-what-why-john-o-connell )