Starting Up Next-Generation Innovations

Written by Susan Coleman

Dyson. Apple. Tesla. These market leaders all began as small startup companies with great ideas and innovative new products that delivered a dramatic improvement over existing offerings. The engineers in these companies constantly asked the question, “How can we do it better?” In doing so, they created new products that were more user-friendly, smarter, more energy-efficient or less expensive. These products answered customer requirements and anticipated needs that customers did not know they had.

While every startup company and its product focus are different, all share a common characteristic: their product’s performance must be robustly designed, tested and verified in order to attract investors, pass any regulatory hurdles and ultimately win in the marketplace. To do that means offering features and performance benefits unmatched by competitors, effectively disrupting the pre-existing market and redefining product performance.

In the past, inventors like James Dyson had to rely on building and testing thousands of physical prototypes, which often required years of effort. Product design and testing of this fashion requires significant financial and human resources which is a challenge for most startups. Already strapped for cash — and typically lacking any revenues — entrepreneurs cannot afford to build multiple prototypes or use advanced testing facilities, such as wind tunnels or test rigs, to verify performance. In addition, physical prototyping and testing are notoriously time-consuming which is dangerous because time is of the essence, especially when entrepreneurs are driving a product to market that could be anticipated or copied by competitors.

Instead, entrepreneurs are accessing an array of advanced tools and processes, including engineering simulation, that can help them take calculated design risks and test their innovative ideas at a minimal investment of time and money. 

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Helping Startups Deliver on Their Product Promise

Recognizing the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in designing and testing new products, ANSYS has created the ANSYS Startup Program to get engineering simulation tools into the hands of eligible, early-stage startups. Over 625 startups from 40 countries have received affordable access to ANSYS’ cutting-edge software solutions leveraged by industry leaders.

Engineering simulation software from ANSYS helps startup companies turn their ideas into viable products by quickly iterating through a number of design options using digital prototypes without investing in physical prototypes or testing facilities. Entrepreneurs can build geometric models of their products in a risk-free virtual environment and digitally explore behavior under real-world physical forces. Not only will these products be verified for robustness and reliability, they will offer proven performance benefits that are important to consumers. 

World View Enterprises, an aerospace startup focused on the design, manufacturing and operation of stratospheric flight technologies, joined the ANSYS Startup Program. World View creates balloon-borne Stratollites – remotely operated, navigable, un-crewed, long endurance stratospheric flight vehicles – that transport large payloads as high as 95,000 feet but much more affordably than a satellite could. Leveraging ANSYS simulation software, World View engineers slashed eight months of development time and saved about $600,000. This enabled them to select the optimum design prior to creating and testing their prototypes. 

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Taking Performance to the Next Level

Most startups are based on product innovation, as entrepreneurs take a current product design and make it significantly better — or come up with a brand-new offering that has never been seen before.

Dramatic innovation means taking design risks. And, because entrepreneurs are breaking new ground, they have no idea what to expect. Simulation offers a tightly controlled yet risk-free development environment in which engineers can push physical boundaries and ask bold “what if” questions. They can reimagine traditional products and create radical innovations quickly and cost-effectively.

While ANSYS software supports innovation, startup companies can also leverage simulation to design for practical considerations such as manufacturability and product cost. They can test different product profiles, configurations and materials to ensure that their products can be manufactured at a price that is appealing to consumers. 

World View engineers controlled costs by leveraging ANSYS Mechanical structural and thermal analysis to optimize the Stratollite’s structural and thermal designs and validated them with just one structural and one thermal prototype. Without simulation, the vehicle’s structure would have gained considerable weight, limiting its payload capacity.

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A Democratic, Easy-to-Use Solution

At their earliest stages, startup companies are typically lean in terms of engineering staffing. Entrepreneurs must often learn to “do it all” or hire a few versatile, multiskilled employees. Because ANSYS simulation software is easy to learn, it is a democratic engineering tool that can quickly be applied by many employees.

In addition, ANSYS software is built on a flexible technology platform that seamlessly integrates with other engineering solutions and systems. Because early-stage startups lack the resources to manage technology platform extension customization, entrepreneurs need practical solutions that are built for the way engineers actually work — and designed to integrate with the multiple tools their employees are using. ANSYS software solutions answer this need. 

Some of today’s biggest companies began as startups and ANSYS is committed to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs innovate bold new products and grow their businesses quickly and cost-effectively. For a deeper dive into the ANSYS Startup Program, click here.

About The Author

Susan Coleman

Susan Coleman

Marketing Manager, Academic & Startup Programs

Over 18 years of leadership experience in sales and marketing with expertise in project management, digital marketing, process creation and execution, sales operations and sales enablement. This includes extensive experience with both B2C and B2B, with a track record for success in both areas.

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