Redefining SME Cooperation to Foster a Value-creation-oriented Approach and Propel Forward Cutting-edge AM Services in the Medical Market
Authors: Adriana Rodriguez Casamayor, Sibylle Hermann, Hans Nopper, Thomas Lück
Abstract: Multi-actor collaboration in business ecosystems has gained importance over the years, not just in research and literature, but also in practice with enterprises veering towards service-oriented value creation to benefit from the competitive advantage it offers for each of the partners in the system. However, in order to harness the potential gains that are implicit in these new ecosystems, SMEs are challenged to develop new strategies to become part of a larger, more complex and dynamic community of co-operating and competing entities that encompasses specialists of different fields with multiple competences and skills, and to influence the building of new governance rules to guarantee their success. This paper depicts the value-creation-oriented approach of a German SME in the field of additive manufacturing (AM) to find its role and establish itself as reliable and valuable player within new multi-actor alliances with the aim of positioning innovative customized products in the medical market. The company’s motivation to reposition itself is driven by an underlying interest of changing the dependence on the existing traditional supply chain structures and promoting its contribution to innovation in the AM branch regarding “production as a service”. Therefore, the firm is willing to contribute to, explore and exploit new methods and procedures to model and simulate various value creation systems in order to support the strategic and operative decision-making in the context of the SME’s reality. For this purpose, three different use cases are considered for analysis: 3D-printed phantoms as visual models, realistic organ phantoms for the surgical training of surgeons, and orthoses and prostheses. The modelling of these three cases, along with further elements and scientific procedures currently under development, set the grounds for a research project in which the SME participates. The first stage of the analysis examines the competitive strengths of the company, such as the potential of the cutting-edge products and services, the processes and technical requirements; and outlines their (dis)advantages compared to similar offers currently available on the market, which with they compete. The second stage offers an insight on the multi-actor constellation in each of the three use cases while deciphering the synergies between actors, resources and processes and how they are intertwined. This phase lays the foundation for understanding not just the roles of the SME and of the other participants, but also the transfer mechanisms (flows of information, material or money) within the complex structures of the business ecosystems. The third stage deals with the SME’s strategies to reposition itself and the risks that it entails. The modelling allows the comparison of boundaries, necessary transitions and their related risks across all use cases. It also identifies the key challenges the SME has to overcome to build up its multi-actor skills on the path to establish new innovative service-oriented forms of value creation. This article offers some insights into the ongoing process of modelling and simulation of innovative ideas, as well as of the perceived value-in-use of the effort to contribute to the methodological development. It also includes a briefly description of the state of the art in the AM branch and of the SME’s core competencies in the medical field that allows for contextualization.
Keywords: service, oriented value creation, modelling, additive manufacturing, cutting, edge innovation, medical field, 3D printed phantoms
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