“GH StartUp Factory is a tool that will allow us to develop and integrate new technologies into our products and processes in a more dynamic way and faster”

GH has launched GH StartUp Factory, a new unit that seeks to streamline the corporation’s processes of collaboration with different startups. To find out more about how it works, we spoke to the two people who will be in charge of this new unit: Ines Puyadena and Eneko Ariznabarreta.

Why was GH StartUp Factory set up? Where did the inspiration and/or need to implement this project come from?

Ines: The idea of working with a management model based on open innovation has been on GH’s mind for quite some time. That’s why 5-6 years ago we started collaborating in the Bind 4.0 programme. Thanks to this platform we had the opportunity to meet different startups to make initial contact with them, but we soon realised that we needed to do more. To solve this problem, in the last Bind 4.0 we took the opportunity to work together with the consultancy firm 27pilots to create this unit called GH StartUp Factory.

Eneko: In fact, at GH we’ve been working with startups and external agents for years now. Some projects have turned out better than others, but overall, these collaborative experiences have been very positive. However, until now we didn’t have a structured procedure for working with startups. With GH StartUp Factory, we are aiming to integrate and structure the collaboration with startups within our innovation processes.

“With GH StartUp Factory we aim to integrate and structure the collaboration with startups within our innovation processes”

What innovations does GH StartUp Factory aim to implement in your way of collaborating with startups?

Ines: Our goal with GH StartUp Factory is to reverse or turn around the way we collaborate with startups. Until now, they would come to us, show us their ideas and then we would see if they were a good fit for us or not. In our opinion, the process should be the other way around. So from now on, first we’ll identify the problems or needs we have and then we’ll go to the startup ecosystem and look for the solution we want.

Eneko: We believe that this is a tool that will allow us to apply new technologies in our products in a more dynamic way and faster than before. With GH StartUp Factory we’re going to try to accelerate the implementation of existing technology in the market.

So, it seems that the idea is to go to the startups and not the other way around? What kind of startups are you looking for? 

Eneko: If a startup comes with a good proposal, we’ll obviously study it and, if it’s worthwhile, we’ll actively collaborate. However, experience has shown us that this doesn’t usually happen. The work of this new unit will consist of actively searching for startups that have relatively mature or advanced products. We aren’t looking for experiments, we’re looking for near-market products that we can quickly incorporate into our processes.

Ines: Regarding the type of startups we’re looking for, on the Unit’s website you can see the three areas of innovation that most interest GH: Connectivity and digitisation, automation and autonomous driving and Industry 4.0.

“We aren’t looking for experiments, we’re looking for existing products or solutions that we can quickly incorporate into our processes”

And what will the process be once you are interested in collaborating with a specific startup?

Ines: First, a pilot project will be carried out “at scale”, so to speak. Once we’ve verified that the solution provided by the startup is valid or that we consider it to be suitable for our needs, we’ll begin with its actual implementation. Our intention is for it to be an agile process, at least in this first phase of verification. Afterwards, the actual implementation of the project will take as long as it takes, but we want the previous step to be dynamic and fast, both for us and for the startups.

How will the startups benefit from this process?

Eneko: As Ines said, above all because of the agility and speed. Large companies are relatively slow in making decisions, but with this unit the idea is to speed up the whole process so that the startup feels comfortable with it. Also, if everything goes well, the startup will have GH as a customer and a real success story to be able to sell their product on the market. In this regard, it’s essential to point out to the startups that we don’t want to take their idea away from them. The intellectual property of their product will remain entirely in their hands. We’re only looking for a customer-supplier partnership.

“It’s essential to point out to the startups that we don’t want to take their idea away from them. The intellectual property of their product will remain entirely in their hands”.

Are you two the team behind the GH StartUp Factory unit or will more people be involved?

Ines: Although Eneko and I will be in charge of managing it, GH StartUp Factory will be a transversal unit in which the entire corporation and different profiles related to innovation will collaborate. In fact, the creation of the unit has already been carried out in this way. Management and the heads of the different GH business units have been involved in its development, since once it is up and running, they will be the main customers of GH StartUp Factory.

Geographically, do the startups have to be from a specific region or are you open to everyone?

Eneko: We’re a global company and we’re looking for startups with the best solutions worldwide, regardless of whether they are close to our headquarters or anywhere else.

What are GH StartUp Factory’s aspirations in the short to medium term?

Ines: We have set ourselves the target of being able to bring 2-3 projects forward this first year and another 3-4 projects next year.

Eneko: Although we have only just set up the unit, we already have a project underway to address an automation problem for an internal manufacturing process and another focused on a digital twin for hoist production.