Blog Post: ToyLabs Project Introduction

ToyLabs Project Introduction

Toy manufacturing is one of the biggest EU industries generating about EUR 5.8 bn in production value, thus exceeding US toy production value and occupying the second position after China. At the same time, EU holds the first position worldwide in terms of Toy market size, as presented in the most recent (2013) study published by EC DG Enterprise and Industry. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) need to find new, innovative ways to position themselves in this market and compete effectively against their large competitors. Learn on how we target to tackle the above challenges in our Toylabs introduction,.

To do this, they should explore ways to address successfully certain key challenges that arise for them, which can be summarised and outlined in the following 6 dimensions:

  • Deal with high costs arising from the need to address Toy Safety issues
  • Figure out ways to compete large firms, which usually manufacture overseas, leveraging EU manufacturing capabilities through synergies’ creation
  • Overcome operation in fragmented markets
  • Minimise high failure rates of new products
  • Respond early on market trends and customisation needs
  • Integration of new, ICT technologies and new, innovative techniques and materials

ToyLabs will be a multi-stakeholder network and consequently a multi-sided platform where key players in the toy industry value network are brought together and collaborate

To meet these fundamental challenges, the ΤoyLabs consortium was created, covering in the most representative way the spectrum of stakeholders involved and of the necessary expertise needed, to develop an innovative approach aiming at “redefining the game” strengthening the position of SMEs in the toy manufacturing industry. In this context, ToyLabs proposes the development of a unique, unified methodology that will create a multi-stakeholder network and consequently a multi-sided platform where key players in the toy industry value network (i.e. toy manufacturers, FabLabs, Toy Safety experts, childhood professionals, end customers etc.) are brought together and collaborate closely in order to come up with new, innovative toys and games, that will be able to quickly enter the market, will respond to a clear market demand, will be cost effective and will be customised to be able to enter also other EU markets.

Thereafter, extraordinary impact may arise for toy manufacturing SMEs that, capitalising on their years of experience and expertise as a basis, will decide to make use of ToyLabs innovative methodology and applicable solution that exploits:

  • the FabLabs expertise on rapid prototyping, use of new materials and ICT solutions, providing them with useful recommendations on toy designs and materials to be used as an opportunity to acquire early feedback on the prototypes by participating end customers, reduce time-to-market of new toys and games and enter new markets (exploiting FabLab’s location)
  • the early integration of Toy Safety experts in the process, enabling them to avoid early mistakes in terms of compliance with toy safety directives when the product is ready to enter the market
  • the “crowd wisdom” as reflected by specific involved stakeholder groups (i.e. childhood professionals, parent organisations etc.) that provide them with valuable feedback and social-media audience that provide them with insights on future trends.

Therefore, ToyLabs, through the above-mentioned concept, that innovates on the value network of SMEs, and based on data analytics, AR technologies, co-creation approaches and feedback management mechanisms, decreases costs of the design and manufacturing process and time to market of new products and supports toy manufacturers reach new markets.