Tech Tank Fosters Entrepreneurial Spirit

If we can define the problem, we can find the solution.

Our unique entrepreneurial culture was in full force during the annual Employee Innovation Challenge, where employees get an opportunity to turn their ideas into industry standards.

The 2017 challenge focused on smarter mobility, generating 684 entries from 26 out of the 29 countries where Magna has facilities and operations.

The finalists, Magna employees representing China, Germany and Canada, gathered in the Troy, Michigan Innovation Studio in early November. Santhiran Rajalingam, Stanley Chen and Michael Gross, presented their ideas at Tech Tank (coined after the show Shark Tank) and faced tough questioning from the judges.

While specifics about the 2017 winners are top secret, the proposals tackled several important topics, including distracted driving, safety, convenience and vehicle personalization. Some could be applied to cars and trucks on the road today, while others were forward-looking and could pave the way toward self-driving vehicles. At least one idea had applications beyond the auto industry.

The participants presented their ideas and described how they would take the next steps to bring the technology to market. Although the proposals addressed different problems, all approached the challenge with an entrepreneurial mindset.

After the presentations, the judges deliberated behind closed doors and decided that Chen turned in the peak performance. He was awarded the first- and second-place prizes.

“This is the third year for our Innovation Challenge,” said Swamy Kotagiri, Magna chief technology officer and one of the judges. “It’s designed to get the creative juices flowing within Magna. If we can define the problem, we can find the solution.”

All contestants get a chance to bring their dream to fruition. Magna provides a six-month incubation process, backing the winning ideas with a business plan that includes a budget, engineers and legal advice in a quest to bring the concepts to market.

To hear directly from the finalists and learn more about the Employee Innovations Challenge, see the video below recapping the event.

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