FirstBuild: Innovating Product Innovation

Innovating Product Innovation

Businesses have long been told to adapt or die. But adapting isn’t enough anymore — now, they need to innovate, and do it better and faster than their competition. 

GE Appliances, a Haier company, solved this problem using FirstBuild, a global online community and makerspace/microfactory at the University of Louisville. The revolutionary paradigm gets products from mind to market faster, ensures customer demand and taps U of L's world-class students and other resources.

FirstBuild is a unique concept, held up by Brookings, citing a report from Deloitte, as  “a model for adapting to a changing competitive environment that disadvantages large firms.” Makers online help identify market needs, participate in product development and watch as their ideas become reality at the microfactory. 

Because of FirstBuild, GE Appliances has been able to generate innovative new products, while saving time and money in the research and development process. And by leveraging crowd-sourced design and funding, the company also knows that there will be consumer demand before each product launches.

The makerspace is also open to the community, allowing them access to tools and equipment to pursue their own innovations. 




The webinar above is presented by Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, better known as Venkat, the founding Director of FirstBuild microfactory and makerspace at the University of Louisville. He has been driving force in the creation of FirstBuild and was responsible for its operations from 2014 to 2016.