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Magna International seeks to connect with technology ideas

By: Rhoda Miel

November 7, 2012

LIVONIA, MICH. (Nov. 7, 4 p.m. ET) — Magna International Inc. wants to cast a wider net to draw in new technology ideas.

While the auto supplier has existing operations covering everything from injection molding to electronics to full vehicle development, Tom Pilette, vice president of product and process development, said he knows there are far more ideas out there than Aurora, Ontario-based Magna can see.

At the same time, small suppliers and startup firms with those ideas lack the contacts that Magna has within the auto industry to sell those ideas for production. Companies need to work together to get those ideas to the right people and potentially bring them into production.

“Collaboration is key,” said Pilette during the Plastics in Lightweight Vehicles conference Nov. 7 in Livonia.

As one example of the possibilities, Pilette noted that he made his first visit to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, and was able to see first hand the range of new products coming onto the market in the near future — products that the bulk of the auto industry has not seen. Those items are only a part of what the auto industry, and Magna, needs to know about.

To help spur that collaboration and new technology, Magna is about to launch “Magna Innovation,” an Internet portal specifically to provide outside companies with a way to connect with the supplier and its network.

The innovation portal will be part of the Magna website, with links that will go live by the end of this year, he said.

“You would be able to click on that and see the technologies we are evaluating, and also a space where you could bring up a technology you have,” he said.

The portal will then forward those ideas to the best person to follow up for potential future development, he said. It will build on existing contacts within the Magna website and traditional relationships already in place.