Inspired by Aalto University (Finland), the Design Factory is an innovation programme dedicated to the design, prototyping and experimentation of products and services following an approach centred on uses and the user experience. It is based on the philosophy of “learning by doing”: students work on professional projects in an operational and autonomous way, combining their skills in engineering, design and digital cultures.
The Design Factory in action
A multidisciplinary team of 5 to 8 students is formed to deal with a field problem proposed by a socio-economic actor, public or private, confronted with the current issues of transition – industrial, digital, environmental, societal
The innovation process is based on :
- an iterative process of ideation and design centred on uses and the user experience
- technical feasibility studies supervised by experts and teacher-researchers
- the creation of a prototype and the testing of the solution in situ
To meet the challenge, the students will create, design and adjust a functional product and/or service prototype over a period of 5 months, which will be tested in situ.
Halle 6 Ouest : a place dedicated to creation, prototyping and experimentation
In the heart of the “Ile de Nantes” district, the teams work in an emblematic place of innovation: the Halle 6 Ouest – Nantes Université, a place dedicated to multidisciplinary creation, prototyping and experimentation. Students have access to cutting-edge tools and expert skills (IT, design, computer-aided design, 3D printing, electronics and carpentry workshop, etc.), particularly thanks to the Manufacturing Lab, for digital manufacturing and prototyping, and the XP Lab for user experience evaluation.
How does it work?
Company or public actor, I would like to propose a challenge
• Why join the Design Factory?
It offers companies a low-risk opportunity :
– to apprehend or appropriate an innovation process integrating a design approach in your economic context
– to confirm or deny a usage scenario
– to identify new commercial opportunities
– to take ownership of a new innovation approach that will be sustainably introduced into their environment.
• What does subscription in the scheme involve?
– The mobilisation of a multidisciplinary student team of engineers, designers and managers
– Support for students by teacher-researchers, coaches and experts
– Access to the technical platforms of Halle 6 Ouest – Nantes Université
– The purchase of equipment and materials necessary for prototyping
– Delivery of a prototype according to the terms of a partnership agreement
• How many hours are dedicated to the project?
The teams are composed of 5 to 8 students. Each of them is involved for a minimum of 175 hours.
• What is my level of involvement in the programme?
An operational referent is appointed within the company to provide support to the teams (give them access to the context of the issue, answer their questions) and to take part in the key moments (framing, milestones and feedback).
• How to take part in the Design Factory Nantes?
Do you have an innovation project and want to know more? Contact us to propose your topic to the students for the 2023 academic year!
– Astrid Corbineau – Design Factory Project Manager
– Julien Laflaquière – Innovation Officer
I am a student and I want to take part of the Design Factory Nantes
• Why participate in the Design Factory?
– Stimulate critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills with input from other disciplines
– Develop your skills, which will be attested by the award of a University Diploma
– Give life to a collective project and test it in a real situation, in association with local actors
– Gain experience and develop your network
– Work on a project with a positive impact that can be easily promoted to future employers
• Who can register?
The Design Factory is intended to be fully multidisciplinary and is open to students enrolled in the 5th year of a design school, an engineering school or any other master (Science and technology, Humanities and social sciences, Health) provided that they can be available all day on Tuesdays for the duration of the program. At the end of the Design Factory, a diploma is issued to students, attesting to the skills acquired during the program.
• Where and when is the Design Factory?
Every Tuesday, in Halle 6 Ouest. Students have access to the manufacturing tools of the Manufacturing Lab and the Experience Lab to test their solution.
• What are the evaluation modalities?
The Design Factory is a project and skills oriented program: there are no exams. Skills are assessed throughout the project through presentations made to the partner company and deliverables provided by the project teams at the time of the final restitution.
• How to register?
Register by completing the dedicated form on the Nantes Université website (receipt of applications as they come in). If you have any questions, contact us : firstname.lastname@example.org
Gémo - Éram Group
The students are free of any constraints, apart from the problem we have given them. This way, they get off the beaten track, the constraints that we can have within the company and it takes us out of our daily routine..
What we really appreciated in the approach was the focus on the user, which we had not necessarily integrated into our search for a differentiating concept.
Merchandising & Concept Director
SCE - Keran Group
There is an emulation in the Design Factory. The entire production chain is processed : the “upstream” approach to understand what we really needed, the modeling of each user’s journey to the ideation of very concrete concepts and their realization by integrating the design perspective.
With a traditional supplier, I am not sure we would have achieved the same result.
Systems Project Manager – Transportation Infrastructure
La Cité Nantes - Congress Centre
What’s really interesting in the different proposals we received is that it’s not all digital. We can see that the multidisciplinary aspect of the Design Factory has allowed us to bring in very human things, we are really in the sensory field.
We start from a blank page to arrive at a prototype. We wonder what we will discover the day of the restitution, and I confess to being very pleasantly surprised: the challenge was taken up by the students, bravo to them!
Executive Vice President
Student of L'École de design Nantes Atlantique
Seeing the company managers so happy with our solutions shows that our analysis was right, that our creativity was good and that our teamwork was well done. It is very gratifying!
The Design Factory gave me experience in multidisciplinary project management. It was very interesting to give us so much freedom to manage, to create. I think it’s very beneficial for my future career!
5th year MDes City Design student
Gémo subject, 2021-22 edition
Student of Polytech Nantes - Nantes Université
The user was at the heart of our ideation. We carried out a whole context analysis: going out into the field, interviewing people, immersing ourselves in real conditions… it was very important.
We have worked with professionals who are committed, who ask for our opinion, our vision of things, who rely on the diversity of skills in the team. It is very rewarding to know that we have been able to move in the right direction, that the work done will be used and useful for the company’s employees.
Student in the 2nd year of the Master of Digital Cultures
SCE subject – Keran, 2021-22 edition
You have an innovation project? You want to know more about it?
Please contact us!
► Astrid Corbineau – Design Factory Project Manager
► Julien Laflaquière – Innovation Officer
The Design Factory Nantes is part of the Innovation offer of Nantes Université, allowing companies to support their innovation process by benefiting from the potential of researchers and students: research collaborations, theses, internships, Disrupt Campus Nantes. Find out more.
Among its missions, West Creatives Industries supports the creation of new interdisciplinary training courses and pursues a strategy of international influence through 5 partnerships, including Aalto University in Helsinki (Finland).
The “Design Factory Nantes” is co-sponsored by Nantes Université, Polytech’Nantes and L’École de design Nantes Atlantique as part of the regional WCI programme. It is a member of the international Design Factory Global Network, led by Aalto University who initiated the concept in 2008. It brings together 36 Design Factories around the world.