How could Penn State New Kensington (PSNK) create a model to help small Rustbelt communities thrive and compete in the digital age while encouraging economic revitalization and development? They came to us for insight and answers to the question.
With its commitment to local and regional economic development, the University wanted to understand how Industry 4.0 (I 4.0) might
- bring change and opportunities to the organization.
- highlight a niche that would match the organization’s skillset with industry ecosystem needs.
- catalyze regional growth.
The University’s vision? A digital innovation lab that would
- encourage regional transformation and position manufacturers for I 4.0.
- meet the needs of diverse stakeholders — manufacturers, workforce, community members, educators, and students.
- provide a sustainable business model.
After examining external technology trends and engaging with the lab’s stakeholders, we identified digital twin technologies as a driver of regional innovation and transformation.
Defining a Digital Innovation Space
In our work to define the role of and requirements for their collaborative digital innovation space, we incorporated our experience
- working with manufacturing stakeholders to determine their needs and barriers to adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies,
- helping U.S. small and medium manufacturers identify and adopt new technologies,
- building regional technology-focused innovation ecosystems, and
- assessing regions’ economic and innovation capabilities.
Identifying a niche opportunity: digital twin technology
We recommended the construction of a space that would encourage and promote industry engagement. Subsequently, we
- identified key partners and early adopters.
- considered programs that would support the different stakeholders and attract industry engagement.
- proposed business and operational models that would serve the community while generating revenue and leading to long-term sustainability.
- advised on building design elements that would align with the business model and programming.
Using our insights, our client received funding to implement the project and asked us to advise during the project’s second phase. We tested the viability of potential business models defined in the first phase and collaborated with the architects to ensure the building layout supported the University’s goals and vision.