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GE invests in Chicago-based co-creation unit, Fuse; reveals four project challenges

The first project, a CT scan image compression, has to do with easing the process of electronic transfers of CT imagery to inspe / Courtesy of Fuse

General Electric has taken a page out of Local Motors playbook and has turned to co-creation for the future. With an investment in a micro-factory in Chicago in 2016, GE looked to tap into the global community by posing four initial challenges through its Fuse community.

Fuse is an open community of “makers, tinkerers and problem solvers who together tackle the challenges that will change the world – one idea, one project, one solution at a time,” according to GE.

“In a nutshell, GE wants to innovate more quickly and believes we can do that with the power of co-creation,” said Amelia Gandara, community leader, Fuse. “This is a really fun and potentially business changing opportunity for us.”

The four projects are in the non-destructive testing field for the community to inspect things that are already being manufactured or are out in use in the industry.

“The model originally came from Local Motors … They used co-creation for various models that they made and they were widely successful,” Gandara said. “We took that model originally and applied it to the appliance division under the name FirstBuild. The newest version is called Fuse. We are working in a very similar way; we are trying to accelerate product and technology development but we want to launch this under several different areas of GE. We want to innovate open innovation and crowd sourcing with the manufacturing and operations.”

The first project, a CT scan image compression, has to do with easing the process of electronic transfers of CT imagery to inspect objects that go into jet engines. The others thus far include: on-wing engine inspection, detecting weld seams on pipes that could cause oil spills, and measuring reflective objects on planes.

“The first one is the CT image challenge,” she said. “We recognize that we put one of the toughest challenges out there first. … A successful challenge for us would be one where we would be moving closer to the solution so in this case being able to transfer and more effectively store our very large CT scans.”

The concept behind the micro-factory is that the mixed-use making spaces are designed to inspire collaboration plus facilitate small-batch manufacturing of products coming from the Fuse community. Through these projects, Fuse is creating a community of engineers, higher education practitioners and individuals in others industries to work to solve these problems.

“Even if they are not contributing a solution per se and submitting an entry, they can comment and provide feedback and say, what do you think about this? Have you tried this?” said Adam Kress, director of PR and content, Local Motors.

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