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TechShop Fuels Ford IP Folio

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On: Fri, May 11, 2012 at 11:42AM | By: Chris Salamone

TechShop Fuels Ford IP Folio

Sometimes US automakers get it right. TechShop Detroit, a recent addition to Ford’s Dearborn product development campus, is the perfect example. Although originally from California, TechShop is a DIY workshop business which offers a wide array of cutting edge (pun intended) tools to paying members. And the best part: Ford is working closely with TechShop to incentivize employee inventions to bolster the automaker’s patent portfolio.

Ford already has about 17,000 pending and issued patents, but expect that number to skyrocket in the coming years. Ford Global Technologies now offers a free three-month membership to TechShop Detroit for potentially patentable ideas. The company projects that 2,000 incentive memberships will be awarded this year…and more to come in the future.

Of course, Ford will own the ideas which employees develop via TechShop, but nevertheless the idea is a bit of a win-win for all parties. Employees get to tinker and benefit from the fruits of their labor – Ford provides financial benefits for good ideas. TechShop gets a large membership base, and Ford receives the long-term reward of intellectual property development and returns.

“Innovation and invention are at the core of Ford Motor Company,” said Bill Coughlin, CEO of Ford Global Technologies. “When I heard about TechShop and how they are inspiring and helping a new generation of inventors, I had to find a way to lure them to Detroit. Not only is it a great opportunity for the community, but it will be a strategic tool to spur creativity and new ideas within the Ford engineering community to help us continue to build our intellectual property portfolio.”

Thus far, dozens of Ford innovators have used TechShop to develop and test their ideas which may one day blossom into future Ford vehicle technology or licensed for outside company use.

TechShop memberships typically start at $99 per month. Ford employees and retirees qualify for a 50 percent discount, though. That’s a pretty affordable monthly payment for the use of tools which most hobbyists dream about. And, members won’t have to fill their personal garages with enormous laser cutters, saws, and other fancy equipment – a fact which Henry Ford might have been happy about.

Apparently Mr. Ford built his first motorized vehicle in a backyard shed before moving on to international manufacturing and stardom. After all, we all have to start somewhere. Some of us might just prefer that somewhere to be a much better equipped and more affordable open-source workshop.

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dwalter | 11:46AM (Fri, May 11, 2012)

wow! great idea!

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