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SURPLACE - Product design from a different perspective

Many companies know they have to invest in product innovation, but have no idea how to start or get stuck. Laura Willems, who runs Surplace together with Dries Laperre, guides manufacturing companies through their innovation journey.

Laura Willems 1

From tricycle to racing bike

"It is logical that companies want to evolve and that they have to move forward. But it is important to take the necessary time for product innovation. It is crucial to stop and think before you fly - hence our name 'Surplace'. It's like riding a bike: you don't get on a racing bike if you can't ride a tricycle yet. If you do, the chances of failure are very high. That's why, as a company, you'd better think about which bike you should use and which route you should choose."

Laura Willems 2

More than just a few crazy ideas

"An innovation process like this is not just some random brainstorming with crazy ideas. We use well-founded methodologies and techniques that fit the company and the context. We first map out the company by means of interviews, patent and market research, and so on. On the basis of various future scenarios and time frames, we uncover opportunities. We cluster these ideas and give them a ranking and priority, from immediately implementable product improvements to future-proof ways of thinking. We give the company a roadmap to be ready for the future."

Laura Willems 3

Maximum impact

"In such an innovation process, we work step by step, experimenting, to quickly determine whether an idea has potential or not. You mustn't be afraid of failures during the experiment, because you learn a lot from them. By testing from the start, you avoid large investments in things that later turn out not to work after all. The ultimate goal is of course to create maximum impact for the end user with as little effort as possible for the company. Only when you succeed in being empathetic and putting yourself in his or her position do you have a substantiated product that can be successful. In doing so, we strive for a good balance between an economic added value for the company in question and a positive impact on society."

Edited by Capone