Motivational story 1
4. Managing inter-organizational collaboration processes
4.1. Basics: What are inter-organisational collaboration processes and how can they be managed?
Advantages of inter-organizational collaboration processes in the creation of a new sustainable construction material
Prof. Dr. DI Ramesh BISWAS, M.Sc. is an experienced architect, urban designer, product developer, entrepreneur and university teacher. He invented a new construction material, based on bamboo composites, which has technical features that are better than concrete, steel or timber, shows additional product benefits (like high water and moisture resistance), is much more sustainable than traditional construction materials and allows also to create completely new designs, such as architectonical free forms.
Bamboo is an evergreen flowering plant of the grass family, considered one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Some species of bamboo build can grow by 100 cm in a single day. Bamboo is a strong, renewable, organic, green resource, which sequesters approx. six times as much C02 as an average tree and provides 40% more oxygen, thus helping achieve goals of the UN SDGs, Paris Agreement and EU Green Deal.
The alternative construction material is a composite of bamboo fibers and can substitute lumber, steel & concrete, for heavy-duty residential & commercial construction, flooring, window frames, pergolas, pavilion, boardwalks, bridges and outdoor furniture.
In order to reach the goals of the creation of ready to use modular building kits, different knowledge and expertise is needed. As Ramesh`s company is relatively small and customers in the construction industry are not very innovative and the industry requires the following of lots of standards, he decided to set up a collaboration of different organizations and companies to address these challenges.
His partners are:
A university with a professor who is specialised in bio-binders. She published several articles on this topic and the university also has laboratories and equipment for testing the prototypes (especially being VOC (volatile organic compounds) free) thus increasing the sustainability of the product even more
- A specialised testing institute, which can carry out physical tests according to DIN / EN standards, like bend test, fire tests, weather and moisture tests, etc.
- A product design company which shall help especially in creating innovative jointing systems between the single panels thus increasing the innovativeness of the product
- A production specialist from wood industry, who shall help to apply the well-known standards from the production of wooden panels to the new materials
Prof. BISWAS from the very beginning makes sure, that all partners understand from the very beginning the “big picture” and overall vision of the product development, are sure about their individual roles and understand that they must act as a team, putting their individual competencies together and collaborate with a series of loops and iterations, thus completing each other to reach the final goal: a ready product.
The different organizations have different individual goals. The university is interested in third-party-funded research projects and scientific publications, the testing institute is a contractor, the design company is interested in a mix of being a contractor and working for equity and the production specialist from wood industry wants to become a future production partner.
With the help of the local chamber and their specialized consultants the teams set up in the very beginning a contract with goals, deliverables and milestones and they agree of the distribution of the intellectual property rights (80% inventor, 15% design company, 5% university). They also sign a memorandum of understanding regarding publication of the results, stating that publishing will only happen after the relevant patents have been submitted and only after release of the inventor, with the university as the lead partner for publishing, but always naming all members of the partnership.
So, to summarize, the inter-organizational collaboration process brought the following benefits:
- Better understanding of the innovation purpose by combining different views, experiences, expertise and knowledge in the technology, process and/or market area
- Increase know-how by interorganisational, organisational and individual learning from different sources, which operate in a similar problem or challenge domain
- Increase the output of innovations by merging knowledge, creativity and forces (e.g. higher disruptiveness, merge different aspects or technologies, quicker development), by different views and by multi-disciplinarity.
- Pooling of human resources, skills and abilities
- Pooling of methodologies
- Better decision-making because of shared information
- Increase trust for stakeholders
Motivational story 2
4. Managing inter-organizational collaboration processes
4.2. SCRUM and agile development
Co-development of successful products
BILLA is with over 1100 stores one of the biggest supermarket chains in Austria and part of the German REWE Group, one of the largest supermarkets chains in Europe with more than 4.000 shops in Austria and 8 further countries. In 2019 Billa started in Austria to closely collaborate with start-ups in order to give them a listing in selected supermarket and supports them with expertise of various expert in the development of a successful product (https://startupticket.at/en/). The group so far has added more than 200 products from over 150 Start-ups to its portfolio. All selected new products must meet the requirements of the UN SDGs (sustainable development goals).
To fulfil this, Austria´s largest food retailer collaborated with Austria´s most innovative bank (Erste Bank) and a very well-known early state investor (Clever Clover) and offers founders and inventors direct access to coaching, investment and listing. In an iterative process the products will be developed together in order to match the requirements of a modern retail chain, from the product itself, to its look and feel, marketing, product packaging, outer packaging, etc.
The process is easy and quick – a short online application briefly explains the USPs of the new product, the target group and some basic facts about the new product and the company. The products are examined by the experts at REWE group Austria and a personal meeting is held, where possibilities and options are discussed. Then the iterative process starts – between the start-up and the experienced experts, with the common goal to co-create a successful product.
“Start-ups are bringing the real innovations into our shelves. The first-mover advantage of the start-ups also increase the innovative image of the retailer”, says Markus Kuntke, head of trend– and innovation-management at REWE Group. “Together with our partners for Erste Bank and Clever Clover we enable the start-ups to successfully place their products into our portfolio – which is also a challenge from the production, processes and logistics point of view.” On the other hand, it is important to keep the spirit of the start-ups. Co-development does not mean imposing structures to the start-up but enable their existing structures to be ready for a successful collaboration with a big retail chain. This is a process at arm’s length, on the same level, and not a process where the start-ups are subordinates.
“We assess the market potential and are the external companion of the start-up. Most of the start-ups do not have profound knowledge in the fields of retail calculation, positioning or international branding – and this exactly where we jump in” says Heinrich Prokop from Clever Clover. “It is also important to enable the start-up to scale quickly, if after a trial order there will be a full order“.
The Bank Partner (Erste Bank) helps in the development of a financing and scaling strategy. “Our role as a bank is to consult the start-up regarding financing and also providing such financing” says Birgit Polster from Erste Bank.
These proceeding has several iterations, as the results from one stage have and influence on another stage, with market tests in physical locations – until the final product is ready to full scale launch.