Large corporations need great tech ideas — fact! But, as even the most optimistic founder knows, it’s not exactly child’s play to figure out which breakthrough might get your local multinational excited.
Well, since it’s our raison d’etre at Pioneers to give much-needed tech its big break, we thought we’d start a blog series in which we ask those corporations for the specifics. What exactly does your friendly neighbourhood innovation boss want you to pitch to him A-S-A-P?
Nothing subtle about this, founders! We’ve put the corporates on the spot and asked them the question point-blank, so nota bene, as they say. And while you go away and work on solving those problems, don’t forget to check in every month for another pointer or two from the big business world.
We’ll kick off this March with some handy guidelines from Magna International’s R&D Vice President Ian Simmons, who took time out from scouting startups at Mobility.Pioneers to share his tech dreams. And the first of those is surprisingly elemental.
“If the startups could find a very simple anti-corrosion material then it would solve quite a complex part of our business today,” says Simmons. “Right now there are multiple steps in the process, which add weight and cost. If there was a simple coating process it would really add to light-weighting.
“We’ve yet to find something that’s sufficiently robust and cheap, and is a very light, thin coating. So that’s something we’re looking for. It would be a big win for the industry because we’re all still trying to save weight and improve mass.”
Meanwhile, if the mobility software side of things is more your bag, then the automotive industry supplier has a challenge for you too.
“If you could find a way to combine all the sensor technologies into one unit that would meet all the needs for autonomous driving, that’ll be absolutely wonderful,” continues Simmons.
“Right now you’ve got ultrasonics for parking, you’ve got a variety of radar systems and you’ve got multiple LiDAR systems, all of which are now enabling fully autonomous vehicles. Then you’ve got cameras with multiple features and systems included on them.
“As all these systems are becoming more sophisticated, they’re starting to overlap each other and add redundancy. But it would be wonderful if you had one all-encompassing sensor system. It could be mounted in different locations, but still meet all the needs for the vehicle.
“For us that’s just science fiction, but it would be tremendous if it existed…”
Great line, isn’t it? If there’s one thing startups do well, it’s turning today’s science fiction into tomorrow’s reality. So over to you, founders — let’s see you make it happen!