Fast, efficient, and reliable: the VARIOincubator consolidates all activities from the initial idea to the development, industrialization and production of innovative electronics solutions. Since launching in the spring, we have been implementing functional prototypes in just one week as a basis for a rapid market launch. Julian Specker, head of VARIOincubator, talks about the first six months of the all-inclusive service offering and reveals what the future holds.
What does the VARIOincubator represent and why was the concept developed?
The VARIOincubator is our response to market developments. We’ve been observing a trend among larger companies to focus on their core areas of expertise for some time now. This means that they are outsourcing hardware and electronics. As partners, we must therefore be more than mere product manufacturers and position ourselves as “co-creating leading innovators” in accordance with our mission statement. Our customers have the idea and we make sure it is implemented as quickly as possible. This is exactly what we developed the VARIOincubator for. We offer a complete service package from the initial idea to the industrialized mass production solution. In addition, via life-cycle management we already ensure the long-term availability of all necessary components during the development phase.
It’s been six months since you launched the VARIOincubator: what is your initial assessment so far?
We’re on the right track and have achieved the first milestones such as the integration of Kubeg and the introduction of the customer success management interface. We are already noticing that processes are speeding up significantly and we are benefiting from early involvement in projects. This is also reflected in the wealth of positive feedback we have received from customers, potential customers, and market experts. We are seen as an innovation partner.
At the same time as the VARIOincubator was launched, the company also acquired Kubeg, a specialist in rapid prototyping and small batch production. What role do these services and the location in Zizers play in Variosystems’ growth plan?
Rapid prototype production is the ideal addition to our portfolio and at the same time the basis for the VARIOincubator. This enables us to really speed things up and produce operational functional samples for validation purposes in just one week. Since we are involved in the development process early on, we save ourselves and our customers time, optimize communication within the team, and can start the industrialization process right away. At the same time, we draw up a purchasing plan for the next few years at an early stage and thereby secure mass production. Coordinated processes, shorter routes, and fewer iterations ensure faster market introduction and lower costs. Especially with large development teams with up to 200 people involved, each additional day costs real money. We are convinced that the VARIOincubator will massively shorten the time to market.
How did the integration of Kubeg go and what is still to come?
Excellent. We have taken over a healthy, extremely well-functioning company. The team and structure in Zizers remain unchanged. We have filled the management position internally with long-time Kubeg employee Silvan Wüthrich, which makes us very happy. All Kubeg customers will continue to be served by the same representatives. They now have the chance to take the next step with Variosystems after the prototype phase and small batch production. This can be especially exciting for start-ups that are beginning to scale up. At the same time, Variosystems customers have benefited from rapid prototype production since the day of the takeover. At the beginning of 2024, we will complete the integration of Kubeg and continue to operate the Zizers site under the Variosystems brand. For the coming year, we plan to grow by more than 20 percent through efficiency improvements and synergies within the group. Over the long term, we will continue to invest in the Zizers location.
How are the interfaces between Development, Purchasing, Industrialization, Production, Life-Cycle Management, and customer teams organized?
Within our interdisciplinary “Customer Success Teams”, the “Customer Portfolio Manager” assumes overall responsibility. The “Customer Success Manager” acts as the interface with the customer, the “Customer Buyer” with the suppliers. The “Technical Program Manager” coordinates development, test and quality management, as well as the industrialization of products at the production facilities. Thanks to this lean structure, we can serve our customers locally, manufacture initial prototypes, start purchasing planning at the same time, and ensure long-term mass production.
Development is a central part of the VARIOincubator. What can Variosystems contribute here?
Engineering and consulting are often how things get started with VARIOincubator. We can support these with our partner network and also offer our own development services via Solve Engineering. We are currently working with more than 100 engineers from the DACH region and are constantly expanding our network. The selection of the appropriate partner is based on technical and geographical requirements, resources, and specialties. Good communication, mutual trust, and openness are key to joint project success. We ensure this through our “Customer Success Management” organization and maintaining our partner network.
Thinking in the global context of Variosystems, does the VARIOincubator remain a model for Switzerland or are there also ideas regarding an expansion of this concept?
The combination of our strengths with rapid prototyping has proven to be a massive win for all sides in just a few months. This can become a success story in other Variosystems global customer organizations in the future.