GE announced a partnership with Local Motors, the open-source hardware innovator, to launch a new model for the manufacturing industry. The partnership will pair co-creation and micromanufacturing to build and commercialize the next evolution of various GE products. The partnership will source collaborative ideas online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers and enthusiasts who will focus on identifying market needs and solving engineering challenges to unlock breakthrough product innovations. As part of the partnership, a new microfactory – a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace – will be established where community ideas will be built, tested and sold. GE Executive Director of Global Innovation Steve Liguori said: “At GE over the past years, we’ve redefined our approach to innovation, focusing on R&D as well as co-creation, open collaboration and partnership, which has allowed us to engage new audiences and develop a following across various industry sectors. Today, a new era of manufacturing is dawning and with Local Motors we are pioneering the future of work, fast tracking a new model for the manufacturing industry, and improving and expanding GE’s product offering to better meet future customer needs”. The open platform, FirstBuild, will officially launch in the summer of 2014 and will be the home for a global community of innovators to prototype, iterate and refine existing GE products, as well as surface new designs. The most popular innovations may then be selected for testing, rapid prototyping and small volume production at the microfactory, which will be open to the public. The first set of projects will focus on GE Appliances and the future of cooking, inviting community members to submit and discuss ideas to improve the performance of select major kitchen appliances. The first product is expected to be available to U.S. consumers by late 2014. Looking to the future, GE will evaluate applications of this business model across the company’s other business units.