Peer-to-peer innovation and New Product Development in action
An article from Idea Time team member Alejandro Perez Ibiricu
An effective way to innovate and learn new ideas is to meet people from other businesses.
That’s because it gets you out of your comfort zone. You see ways that your own business can change or improve.
Have you heard of coopetition?
Coopetition is when companies, who may sometimes be competitors, collaborate for mutual benefit, building on the concept that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. In the case of new product development, coopetition can help businesses improve process efficiencies, resolve supply chain challenges, learn about new technologies and generate ideas.
Site visits as part of the New Product Development Peer-to-Peer Programme
As part of a short series of events held for Yorkshire manufacturing businesses, we participated in a day of site visits with programme delegates.
This was part of an industry collaboration programme being run and led by PAPI, which stands for ‘Product and Process Innovation’. PAPI, an ERDF funded project, helps small businesses in York, North Yorkshire, East Riding and Leeds City Region develop innovative new products by providing grants for equipment.
The PAPI team is based at the University of York, and our MD, Dr. Jo North has been helping to facilitate the project. You can read about the first day of the programme here.
We visited two local manufacturing companies, OE Electrics in Wakefield and Debar in Bradford, to share learning and insights on new product development. Both are family businesses that are expanding and employing more than 100 people. A big thank you goes to both OE Electrics and Debar for inspiring us, sharing knowledge and insights and for giving us such a warm welcome on the day.
OE Electrics - let’s start the day
In the morning we visited OE Electrics. Their ethos is “always innovating”, which was really evident from the second we walked into their stunning, purpose-designed new facility.
OE Electrics are experts in designing and manufacturing power and data distribution solutions. They believe that innovation is essential to the success of every new design and solution; it’s at the heart of everything they do, from the products they design to the systems they use every day.
OE Electrics put the customer front and centre of their focus and everything they do, from the creation of new products to the implementation of a new system. They have been providing custom designs from their dedicated in house team since 1986. With an unrivalled product range to support their bespoke service they most certainly will have a product to meet any of their customers’ needs.
Company growth has skyrocketed since its creation. OE Electrics started in the UK as a small business in one building. The company expanded and spread across four buildings and grew to over 100 employees. They have since bought the whole business together into a single building. Now the manufacturing processes and the offices are in the same place – which provides a fantastic living, working showroom for their products in action when customers come to visit.
Photos below: cool and functional product design at OE Electrics head office in Wakefield
The business has also created huge international growth and have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2019.
During the visit, three of the OE Electric executives gave a fascinating presentation on the history of the company, as well as what drives them today.
Debar - Keep learning!
In comparison to OE Electric, Debar is very young.
It was created by Graham Fawthrop in 2013, and Graham’s previous experience has helped the company grow fast. It’s now a leader in the bi-fold hardware industry.
Debar is a British manufacturing company that designs, develops and manufactures hardware kits for bifolding doors.
Debar is an internationally trusted name supplying bi folding door hardware kits to the trade. They are recognised for their quality of product and expertise in the industry and are a truly international supplier.
They have a multitude of specialist hardware products and bi fold door replacement parts from handles to bespoke locking systems and can supply components to meet all their customers’ requirements for bi fold door hardware. These include handles, locks, shoot bolt mechanisms, magnetic door holders, hinges and rollers.
Debar is a fast-growing company and is going from strength to strength building its success on innovation and quality.
Insights from the Site Visits
It was truly inspirational to have a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes of two successful, innovative, customer-focused Yorkshire manufacturing businesses.
Here are the insights that Jo and I took away from the day on the success factors that these two fast-growing, international businesses share:
- Each business began from a single bold decision taken by the founder to step out. And more bold decisions followed to take the business to each successive stage of growth.
- Both businesses have a clear vision that is shared by employees.
- Success comes from really niching down – being experts in a slice of their industry, taking space that is an inch wide and a mile deep.
- The companies stay ahead of the curve with regard to trends and technology.
- Understanding and serving individual customer segments brilliantly is key.
- Physically showing customers what the product is and how it looks and works in real setting is priceless.
Thank you again to OE Electrics and Debar for a truly great, inspirational and informative day.
Interested in developing innovation in your business?
PAPI helps small businesses in York, North Yorkshire, East Riding and Leeds City Region develop innovative new products by providing grants for equipment. Further innovation programmes and events are planned for the future. For more information, go to the PAPI website here or please call the PAPI team on 01904 32 8076.
There are SO many things that you could be doing to innovate and grow your business, but only 24 hours in a day. So how do you decide which ideas will make the most difference to your bottom line? And how do you get your team or business network on board so that you can get results – fast? Join the Idea Time® Membership and Jo will work with you to action your ideas more effectively so you can achieve your innovation goals. Have a look here for more information.
And if you would like to receive innovation advice or tips, contact Jo direct at [email protected].