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Co-Creating the Business Model of Panama Flying Labs

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August 1st, 2018

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Earlier in July, Panama Flying Labs officially opened their doors with the objective to create a regional innovation hub in Central America around robotics technology, bringing together local ecosystem actors (universities, incubators, businesses, public sector) and paving the way for the development of tech-driven solutions to social and environmental problems. Today, the potential application of robotics technology as a social innovation solution is not widely known in Panama, as in the rest of Central America. Increased understanding of and demand for these technologies can also signal new business opportunities, sparking entrepreneurial activity and tech-driven job creation within the local innovation ecosystem. Nonetheless, a catalyst is required to accelerate the transfer of skills and technology to local organizations in order to spark the robotics ecosystem. This catalyst is Panama Flying Labs, a co-creation between the Technological University of Panama (UTP) and WeRobotics, funded for its setup by IDB and FOMIN.

For its opening, Panama Flying Labs can already count on a very strong team made up by its recently hired full-time staff, Dania Montenegro and Leonel Montes, as well as its leaderships by Dr. Humberto Rodriguez and Dr. Oscar Garibaldi. To support the successful opening, the labs first activity was a Co-Creation workshop to build Panama Flying Labs' Business Model, between the team and WeRobotics Co-Founder and Chief Entrepreneurship Officer Sonja Betschart. Additional experts from UTP joined the workshop during the week to contribute with their experience and add even more diversity to a colorful week.

Brainstorming on Panama Flying Labs "Why, How, What"

Day 1 of the workshop week started with discovering the dreams for Panama Flying Labs of each team member, an important element that allowed to converge each team members' passion and motivation with the vision and mission of the lab. Passion is an important key success factor in all our activities as many of our and the Flying Labs activities are about sharing knowledge and experiences in trainings, pilot projects, community engagement and other information events as well as conferences. To start out the week by talking about dreams also set the perfect base to the next exercises of Day 1, a complete list of all existing skills and capacities already present by adding up the experiences of all team members and associated UTP experts, followed by a brainstorming for a first draft of Panama Flying Lab's "Why, How, What".

During the next 2 days, we then deep-dived into the nitty-gritty part of Panama Flying Labs' business model, establishing the detailed value proposition, identifying stakeholders, clients and partners, discussing and validating the labs' key activities and resources as well as and various ways of interacting with their stakeholders. In order to build up a sustainable organization catering to a variety of stakeholders in Panama and the Central American region, we also identified the labs' revenue streams. Both days were rich in brainstorming sessions, valuable discussions and shared experiences and all these contributions led to a solid business model and detailed one-year plan of activities.

The goal of Day 4 was to challenge what we built over the last 3 days by future clients and partners. Our invitation for this open workshop was met by a variety of stakeholders ranging from ministries, NGOs and associations to provided additional ideas and enriched the business model.

All involved are now looking forward to an exciting journey over the next 3 years in helping Panama Flying Labs to harness the power of robotics for social innovation and become the Regional hub for Central America. Starting with another series of workshops in early October to build local skills for the Social Good sector. A detailed program will be announced in the coming weeks.


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