Last month, the World Economic Forum selected Onshape as one of the world’s 56 most promising “Technology Pioneers.” It’s a prestigious honor that recognizes companies that have the potential to “transform their industries” and “improve society for years to come.”

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers are early-to-growth-stage companies that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society. Honorees are chosen by a selection committee of academics, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate executives.

Past recipients have included Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Spotify, TransferWise, Twitter and Wikimedia.

Congrats to Our Fellow Tech Pioneers

We’d like to thank the World Economic Forum for recognizing the impact Onshape has had on the product development process and the innovations to come. You can see all the 2019 honorees here. We’re extremely proud to be in the same class as such amazing companies as:

  • Airobotics – Pioneers in autonomous robotics with aerial insights and analytics.
  • GHGSat – Satellite monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities.
  • Photanol – Making biodegradable plastic from CO2 rather than depleting fossil fuel resources.
  • Relativity Space – Creator of the world’s first entirely 3D-printed rockets. Long-term goal is to 3D print the first rocket made on Mars.
  • Sky Labs – Developing a cardio tracker to identify arrhythmia, which is difficult to diagnose.
  • Volocopter – Developing autonomous, on-demand multicopters for urban transportation.

When I stop to marvel at what our fellow Tech Pioneers are working on – space exploration that need not start on Earth, airborne driverless taxis, eco-friendly plastics – I’m reminded how critical product development is to most of our progress in society.

The world can be a much better place with better products – whether that’s in medicine, agriculture, energy, transportation, aerospace and virtually every other industry. By natural extension, better products result from better design and manufacturing processes.

Last year marked the 30th anniversary of parametric feature-based CAD. The beauty of feature-based parametric modeling was that engineers could create solid models with an ordered list of understandable modeling features (sketch, extrude, fillet, shell, etc.) and, by changing dimension values – or adding, editing, reordering or deleting features – their solid part’s geometry would automatically update. Parametric modeling made solid modeling practical for the first time and was a huge time-saver.

Unfortunately, product development tools have not kept pace with the needs of the modern world and modern design teams. The vast majority of products have more than one part. As a product and the team developing it become more complex – the more parts in an assembly, the integration of software/mobile/hardware, the more people, vendors, etc. – the more complicated it becomes for collaboration and data management.

It is extremely rare that today’s product development professional is working alone. There are usually other engineers, designers, vendors, suppliers, partners – and of course, clients – who need to access your latest 3D product model right away. The big question is how do you efficiently communicate with your partners and give them immediate access to the most accurate information?

For the past three decades, product developers have been slowed down tremendously by the difficulty of sharing design files back and forth (by email, Dropbox, FTP site, etc.) How does a contributor know if the file they are looking at is really the latest version of the design? According to the State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2019 research report, nearly 9 out of 10 design and manufacturing professionals still see version control as a major blocker.

Onshape’s platform has no files. Its cloud-based database architecture enables real-time data management. Sharing a CAD model with anyone (and granting Editing/Viewing permissions) is as easy as clicking a box and sending a link. Once your colleague has access to your product model, they can open it immediately – there is no special software to download and install.

Furthermore, whenever one member of your design team makes a change, everyone else on your team instantly sees it. And Onshape’s comprehensive Edit History tracks every design change – who did what and when – allowing you to instantly revert to any previous stage of the model.

Eliminating the “Which version is the latest version” question, and replacing your need for a burdensome PDM system, is just one of many ways that Onshape speeds up and streamlines the product development process.

Who Will Be the Next Tech Pioneers?

One of the core focus areas of the World Economic Forum is “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“Over the next decade,” they write, “we will witness changes tearing through the global economy with an unprecedented speed, scale and force. They will transform entire systems of production, distribution and consumption. Our activities address the ways these changes affect our lives, their impact on future generations, and how they are reshaping economic, social, ecological and cultural contexts.”

As I perused this year’s list of World Economic Forum honorees and thought about their profound impact on how we live, it reminded me that Onshape’s customers are having a similar impact.

To design its upcoming Mach 5 business-class passenger jet, Hermeus chose Onshape, the cloud product development platform that combines CAD, data management, real-time collaboration tools and business analytics.

Consider the fossil fuels that will be saved by XING Mobility’s electric motors and batteries for trucks, busses, boats and construction equipment. Or the joy of business travel once Hermeus delivers its promise of a hypersonic commercial jet (soaring at 5 times the speed of sound) that significantly reduces the time of an overseas flight. Or the lives saved by taking cocaine, heroin and other dangerous illegal drugs off the street with Viken Detection’s handheld x-ray instruments for law enforcement. Or the lives saved by Silverside Detectors’ innovative nuclear radiation detection devices to help counter terrorist threats.

The entire Onshape team and I feel part of these companies’ success stories and we continue to cheer them on from the sidelines. I am grateful that this list could go on and on.

As the speed and innovation of product development help solve critical problems and make the world a better place, Onshape is committed to keep improving product development.