Open Innovation in Electric Aircraft: George Bye

Entrepreneur and aviation executive George Bye was the guest speaker in my Technology & Innovation Management course last night. He presented The Green Flight Project, an open innovation collaboration among alternative energy and aerospace industries with the goal of an electric hybrid propulsion system for aviation. Besides the "cool factor" of building an electric airplane, Mr. Bye provided evidence that the time is right for this endeavor -- and provided yet another example of the value of open innovation for complex development projects. Here is one of his opening slides:Bye Energy Technology Acceleration Curve (Used with Permission) Just as you would expect from a combined 4000+ hour pilot and experienced entrepreneur, Mr. Bye is staying ahead of the airplane and ahead of the industry ecosystem. He's positioning his organization and collaborators to be ready rather than wait for photovoltaic or battery technology to make the needed jumps. The project requires tight integration across a variety of technically-sophisticated partners. Bye EnergyAscent Solar, Porous Power, Scion Aviation, UQM Technologies, Vertical Power, and Bye Engineering must work as one to succeed. These technical partners are supported by an equally sophisticated advisory board and more than ten additional sponsors. From my perspective this is a strong example of systems savvy. Not only are these enterprise partners managing the technology to get us to electric hybrid flight, but they are also managing the organizational dynamics of tight integration. I'm guessing that some of the technical capabilities exist in multiple pieces of the partnership. I'm guessing too that technical decisions are made with a combination of technical, organization, and business dynamics in mind. Making these decisions and providing the needed integration is systems savvy at both macro (across organizations) and micro (within organization) levels. I look forward to learning from their management experience as well taking advantage of their end product. For more on electric aircraft, please see this EAA announcement of the electric aircraft activities planned for AirVenture 2010. Thank you to all who provided support for Mr. Bye's presentation, including:

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