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9/15/2016 | 2 MINUTE READ

Local Motors launches new division to help manufacturers innovate faster

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Called Forth, the new division is a crowd-powered, SaaS platform to advance product development on everything from small appliances to cargo drones.

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Local Motors (Chandler, Ariz.) has launches a new division called Forth, which consists of a crowd-powered, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform and related services that enables companies to transform and digitize their product development process using co-creation and micro-manufacturing.

Local Motors says that "co-creation has always been at the heart of the company," which has engaged in this process over the past decade while creating and launching all of the products in the company’s vehicle portfolio, including the Rally Fighter, the world’s first co-created vehicle; the Strati, the first 3D-printed car, and most recently Olli, the first cognitive, autonomous vehicle with IBM Watson technology.

The official launch of the Forth division comes after years of not only using co-creation to build vehicles, but also engaging with companies like GE, Airbus Group and the U.S. Army to advance product development on everything from small appliances to cargo drones.

“The launch of Forth is a proud moment for me as it demonstrates to the world that co-creation and micro-manufacturing of vehicles is leading the way for rapid product development and commercialization across many other industries,” says Local Motors Co-founder and CEO John B. Rogers, Jr. “The time is now for digital and industrial to come together in products that delight us and make our world better. The last century of manufacturing is not fit for the products of the next century, and Forth is showing the world that if we can change the vehicle industry to incorporate a digital future in its process and products, then we can do the same in every industry across the world.

“As more and more companies harness the power of co-creation, the movement grows, benefiting not only the community, but internal employees and customers as well. It is high time that we bring products with the latest technology to market at unprecedented speed,” Rogers says.

The heartbeat of Forth is an online co-creation community with more than 60,000 active members from around the world. “This network of inspired innovators routinely confronts the world’s most formidable challenges, and their creative potential is already being leveraged by two of the largest companies in the world, GE and Airbus Group,” the company stated.

GE and Local Motors together created FirstBuild in 2014, and the result was a micro-factory in Louisville, Ky. that commercialized small home appliances in record time. Those include the Prisma cold brew coffee maker and the Opal countertop nugget-ice maker. GE and Forth will launch a major new co-creation engagement later this year.

Local Motors and Airbus Group launched the Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge in April, a co-creation initiative that started with a design challenge to begin development on the next generation of commercial drones. After a first phase that included a record 425 entries, the next phase of the engagement, led by the Forth team, focuses on building the Airbus Drone Services Platform, a digital marketplace for drone-based services.

“We believe that if you ignore the world when you develop products, the world will ignore your products,” says Elle Shelley, executive vice president of Forth and Local Motors CMO. “The goal of Forth is to empower as many ideas and people as possible – inside and outside of corporate America and around the world. Together we are building a community and the tools that can unleash the power of collaborative innovation, rapid prototyping and small-batch manufacturing. The result of this is the ability to bring to market the products desired by a digital generation.”

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