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Aalto Design Factory develops new cooperation platform with Volkswagen

'The space for digital ideas', the PopUp Markthalle, opened to the public on the 15 January.
Aalto student Zoé Blanchard designed the Markthalle pop-up space during her work placement at Volkswagen. Photo Thomas Abrell

The car manufacturer Volkswagen, the City of Wolfsburg and the VfL Wolfsburg football club, playing in the Bundesliga since 1997, are together developing a cooperation platform that is their own version of Design Factory. Aalto Design Factory is involved in this work by facilitating the cooperation between the partners in Wolfsburg.

Originally launched at Aalto University, the Design Factory’s operating model has already spread to 20 cities and all the five continents. It is an open cooperation platform based on the culture of experimentation enabling students, researchers and companies to create and test their different product and service ideas. Wolfsburg now also wants to draw on this ideology in the development of the city and the promotion of its innovation activities.

'The collaboration with Design Factory opens a new door to open innovation at Volkswagen. Markthalle – Raum für digitale Ideen (Market Hall – Space for digital ideas) is, as its name suggests, one of Wolfsburg Digital's flagship projects in which citizens are involved not only as service users, but as designers who co-create real value', says Dr. Thomas Abrell, Volkswagen AG Group Digitalization, Smart Mobility.

'We are taking the open co-creation culture typical of Design Factory with us to Wolfsburg. At the same time, we gain new experiences about cooperation at the interface of companies and cities ourselves. This will open up new opportunities to examine and develop our own operating model towards the Design Factory of the future', says Päivi Oinonen, Project Manager of Design Factory Global Network.

Another contribution to the Markthalle collaboration is made by VfL Wolfsburg, which aims to increase the services it provides in the field of competitive video gaming, eSports and to develop the ideas and concept around a digital soccer court in front of the market hall.

The Wolfsburg Digital initiative is aimed at turning the city into a 'laboratory' of digital services, new business activities, mobility and new operating practices. Photos Zoé Blanchard

Wolfsburg to become a model city of digitalisation

The Wolfsburg Digital initiative aims at bringing all digital operators in the city together to form one innovation community. The first concrete step towards this aim was the opening of the Volkswagen IT City in May 2017, which created a modern office campus for 1 500 ICT and digital experts to the city.

Now the old, unused market hall in Wolfsburg will transform into a temporary pop-up space for open events and workshops in which ideas will be generated for the new cooperation platform. At the same time, participants will carry out different experimentations and learn suitable collaboration methods.

The Aalto Design Factory team – Päivi Oinonen, Kalevi Ekman, Viljami Lyytikäinen and Doctoral Candidate Andreas Benker from the School of Business – has been sharing its expertise in collaborative methods and operating practices with its partners in Wolfsburg during autumn 2017. In addition, the team will be facilitating the activities in the workshops for as long as the Markthalle PopUp Space is open, until the end of March 2018. Advantage will also be taken of the momentum of the opening of the Markthalle.

'During the opening, feedback on digitalisation will be collected from the participants, which will also communicate to people the basic idea of the platform according to the Design Factory model – in an open and participatory manner. We are very much looking forward to the forthcoming events which have already filled the Markthalle's calendar to the brim. The forthcoming events range from the launch of the FIFA18 game to the development of a bus application and interesting lectures on digitalisation', says Päivi Oinonen delighted.

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