engineYou may know that LED headlights are popular, because they have a massively long lifespan (about 50,000 hours of use) and as far as advantages over traditional halogen lights, LED lights offer more control and brightness, they’re more energy efficient and enduring, and they’re also safer since LEDs don’t contain mercury. What you might not know, however, is that they’re still a very recent addition to the market. It was only in 2007 that the first full-LED headlight in the world was introduced for mass production in the Audi R8. The company that created them was Magneti Marelli, a subsidiary of Fiat Group that’s been around for close to one hundred years.

And although they’ve maintained a competitive edge with their 12 research and development centers, they only recently introduced an open innovation component to their ideation and development process: the Laptime Club.

The LapTime Club is an innovation community built specifically for motorsport engineers and experts, but also for technology and electronics enthusiasts. The objective of the LapTime Club is to stimulate creativity and innovation, which promotes the development of ideas, products and services that are effective for the world of racing. Anyone in the Magneti Marelli network (and beyond) was invited to join and they soon saw numerous highly-technical ideas coming to them from inventors around the world.

  1. Gather Great New Ideas. In this case, Magneti Marelli reviewed the top twenty ideas and selected two to put into production. Only 15% of the total ideas in the community came from the internal R&D team – the other 85% came from users around the world. 85% of those ideas weren’t available without an open innovation pgoram.
  2. Maintain a Competitive Edge. Most organizations are familiar with the stark reality that they call Joy’s Law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” If you’re leaning only on your internal R&D teams, then most likely you’re leaving a large portion of the market on the table. The Magneti Marelli team learned that the value of good ideas was outweighed by keeping IP private.
  3. Shorten the R&D Cycle. Because the process for vetting ideas is straightforward and public, oftentimes organizations cut down on the time it takes develop and prototype a product.

If you’d like to read the full Magneti Marelli success story, download the case study here.