AKRONCollaborationdone wisely and with the proper entitycan be a vital tool in driving innovation in the tire industry, according to Smithers Group CEO and President Michael Hochschwender.
As R&D budgets stay flat while demands from shareholders, customers and consumers increase, collaboration could be an avenue to success for some companies, Mr. Hochschwender told attendees of the Tire Society meeting, held during the International Tire Exhibition Conference Sept. 8 in Akron.
Collaboration simply to collaborate is cost without value, he said. Smaller collaborations driven and managed by frontline technical leaders can and typically are very effective.
Mr. Hochschwender suggested three entities for collaboration, each of which, he said, offers advantages and disadvantages: universities which have access to grants as well as offer some tax advantages and other financial streams that typically aren't available to businesses; governmental agencies which offer a deep talent pool as well as access to very expensive, often underutilized equipment; and competitors, which can be advantageous for both parties as each understands the product and the industry, and the talent is broad.
Businesses must consider carefully whether collaboration is right for them.
It's expensive to create collaboration, he said. It takes time. It's expensive to maintain. If there's not a fair amount of value achieved, why bother going through the effort?