Interview with Heinz Oyrer, Director of Strategic Partnerships, LeddarTech
Heinz Oyrer joined LeddarTech® in January 2019 as Director of Strategic Partnerships. In his role, he is responsible for developing, managing, supporting, and maintaining strong relationships with key strategic partners worldwide including those in the Leddar™ Ecosystem.
With more than 25 years’ experience in the semiconductor industry, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge acquired from various sectors such as automotive, industrial, robotics, and IoT applications. The Autonomous Team recently caught up with Heinz to discuss his ideas on how we could exploit the full potential of an ecosystem for the future of safe autonomous mobility.
Hi Heinz, thank you for joining us! What is, in your opinion, an ecosystem and why is this concept important in today’s tech industry?
Ecosystems typically bring together multiple players of different types and sizes to create, scale, and service markets in ways beyond any organization’s capacity. Being part of an ecosystem encourages both innovation and growth. It helps create new value propositions through both collaboration and competition. Today’s product markets are a complex web of technologies and intelligence. I see a strong future for ecosystems and promising opportunities for them to create new competitive advantages, better serve customers, create new customer experiences, and drive innovation and disruption. The tech industry needs to collaborate towards a common goal instead of relating disparate technologies.
How does the ecosystem approach contribute to safe autonomous mobility?
As expressed above, the automotive industry needs to collaborate towards a common goal instead of relating disparate technologies. Therefore, enabling OEMs to make platform decisions instead of product decisions is one of the key objectives of an ecosystem as well as developing standards and more interoperable technologies. These efforts enable OEMs to make informed decisions, harmonize specifications, and put less emphasis on hardware-only specs and performance and more on software scalability and architectural compatibility. They will also be better equipped to define the performance needed to address actual use case requirements instead of over-emphasizing specs, sharing cost and risk in developing the key components. Ultimately, the ecosystem approach helps leverage IP and expertise from multiple technology and industrial leaders.
Safety plays a crucial role in autonomous mobility, where new technologies like 5G, IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning all need to work in perfect harmony for autonomous vehicles to become a reality. If one of these technologies isn’t up to the task, the entire ecosystem will suffer. None of these technologies want to be labeled as the “weakest link” when it comes to underpinning automotive safety. But one aspect that will take even more time than the development of technology will be the establishment of legislation. Currently, the world lacks a definitive framework for dictating just how safe a self-driving car must be before it’s allowed on the road. It’s therefore crucial that the global ecosystem works together to establish a common framework based on significant testing.
How is the ecosystem concept different from the classical supply chain?
There is a distinction between supplier and partner. A supplier is often selected through a traditional bidding process and provides goods or services in standardized transaction patterns for a certain period of time, conforming to standard terms and conditions. When the transaction is completed, the business relationship effectively ends. A partner is defined as a tailored business relationship based on mutual trust, openness, and shared risk and reward that yields a competitive advantage. Partners often participate in the product design processes across organizational and geographic boundaries. Partnerships are fluid and flexible relationships that depend on honesty and integrity to ensure success. Of course, there is always the possibility that a supplier evolves into a strategic partner.
What is the best way to stimulate and catalyze the power of ecosystems?
Ecosystem participants – those who are aware that an ecosystem exists and that they are part of it – need to make sure that an ecosystem mentality is part of the company culture and positively contributes to their business model. Besides what you have intrinsically, alliances, joint ventures, and partnerships can contribute to the value chain of a corporation. The benefits of a strategic partnership are related to both the partners and the customers. In regards to the partner, it means that two (or even more) organizations are committed to many success metrics, such as a go-to-market strategy leading to increased sales both through cost-sharing and expense reductions. Additional benefits include an accelerated time to market, roadmap alignment and joint development. Furthermore, partners can take advantage of the enhanced market and customer access, cross-selling, commercial and technology de-risking, and cooperative marketing initiatives while leveraging each brand, and sales and marketing power.
For the customer, it is exciting that two or more organizations operate together to produce something of greater value.
How can partnerships, networks, and collaboration in general lead to successful business outcomes in the autonomous driving field?
One key difficulty OEMs and Tier 1s face every day, which contributes to increased development time and cost challenges, is the adaptability of complex ADAS and AD systems. The current architectures are incredibly costly to adapt to each vehicle or customer. There is a growing recognition that modular, adaptable, and extensible platform architectures are needed to develop a viable business in this field. The growing complexity also requires greater integration of technologies from multiple suppliers. Collaboration in an ecosystem business model significantly contributes to solving all these challenges, thus enabling our customers to avoid them.
For instance, at LeddarTech, we have developed the Leddar™ Ecosystem – a select group of world-class strategic partners and collaborators that support the customer development of automotive sensing solutions for ADAS and AD applications. A prime example of how collaboration can lead to successful business outcomes in the autonomous driving field is LeddarTech’s LiDAR Developer Partner Program. Take a 3D LiDAR scan architecture based on key components, services, and assumptions, represented by leading technology companies collaborating to develop LiDAR components, boards, sub-modules, design files, as well as development and manufacturing services. Tested and proven technologies enable a final design that reduces risks and avoids potentially years of research and development trial and error investment. Such a collaboration consequently reduces the development effort, costs, and risks, and accelerates automotive Tier 1’s time-to-market in developing their own LiDAR solutions to address their customers’ needs for ADAS and AD applications.
Last but not least, what are, in your opinion, the main benefits of joining and actively contributing to The Autonomous initiative?
The Autonomous initiative fits perfectly into what we previously discussed, offering an expansive ecosystem to write the next chapter in autonomous mobility safety. Bringing together key players from the industry to show serious efforts to increase safety, reduce development costs, and align with law regulatory standardization bodies, can only be achieved with greater industry and market acceptability. The main benefit of joining and actively contributing to The Autonomous initiative relates to the fact that The Autonomous is well-positioned to play the conductor in such an ecosystem, leading to a global reference solution on various levels (architecture, regulation, security, AI, etc.), defining state-of-the-art safety in automated driving. These challenges cannot be mastered by a single OEM or tech company.