Peter Ramsden sits down with Indy Johar, co-author of the SIE policy paper, Making Good our Future: Exploring the New Boundaries of Open & Social Innovation in Manufacturing.
When Peter asks Indy why he thinks there is a moment of opportunity of manufacturing in Europe and in the world, Indy explains the importance of interoperability, and the challenges and opportunity of creating an infrastructure for these new types of commons.
IJ: We need to recognize that manufacturing is in the middle of a revolution – its not individual makers that are interesting, but the system of makers and their interoperability. Someone who shares an open source product creates a commons for that product to be used, adapted and traded. It’s that commons infrastructure that we are starting to create around manufacturing.
It is the complexity of these things that start to get richer and more innovative. It’s how do we create new types of clusters, open clusters, which are not just about proximity in an old fashioned way, but actually interoperability in a more advanced way. What do APIs look like? What does insurance look like in a system? How do you assemble it? How do you attribute the complexity of supply chains and insurance risk across those?
So, firstly I think we are at the beginning of a new journey where corporate manufacturers themselves are starting to understand their value in being able to have access and be influenced by social risk. We’re no longer able to see private manufacturers. It’s more interdependent.
Secondly, we’re coming to this new idea of shared wealth and shared wealth infrastructure and I think manufacturing will change as it has to start reinvent its responsibility to the context of supply chain and not just its supply chain.
The third part is pure commons infrastructure. We start to see how we can build institutional architecture on this – how we do it, who organizes it etc. I think these are again open conversations.
PR: So why is this possible in Europe? For the European Union, this presents an opportunity to deliver part of its future agenda on Europe 2020. So what would like for the Union itself to be doing in order to support your idea of making good for the future?
IJ: We mustn’t forget that we have the greatest history in democracy at a system level. We have the infrastructure that supports individuals. We have a city infrastructure, which can actually become a powerful economic engine. We have many of the conditions to allow for this new manufacturing ecosystem to emerge.
So how do we reinvent the Union? I think we have to think from an institutional level to reinvent the Union. It’s not about adoption or hacking these things, it’s genuinely thinking about what 21st century models could look like and reinventing them fundamentally. I think that’s the scale of innovation that is required.