Crazy ideas, genius ideas

Inspire • Pulse #2 • 3 min
By Pascal Beria By Charles Bombardier Engineer and founder of Imaginactive (Canada)

An engineer, born in Quebec in 1974, Charles Bombardier is the grandson of the inventor of the snowmobile. His love of innovation and motorised engines were the driving force behind the creation of Imaginactive in 2013, a platform that promotes innovation and industrial creation.

Where did the idea for Imaginactive come from?

Imaginactive is first and foremost an ideas factory. An invention presented on our site can lead to the generation of other ideas. Some of them may be one-off projects, others may be spectacular developments. It’s fantastic to be active on both extremes of the spectrum.

Does Imaginactive want to appeal to people capable of developing your ideas?

It’s a bit like that. We have an approach that aims to seek out and bring together businessgroups, scientists and industrial designers so we can improve what’s already out there and help society to move forward. If concepts are successful, they can attract big companies who are able to invest the necessary resources into progressing technology and developing new markets.

Does that mean that all the projects you present are feasible?

I trained as an engineer. It’s a solid base on which to imagine the future together with broad perspectives. My projects have to be based on rational foundations so that the next level can be extrapolated and take our thinking out of the box. I am not linked to any one company and I finance my own projects. This allows me to act with great freedom which is extremely precious, at the same time though, it’s easy to get lost without precise directions.

So where does your ability to shift your mindset come from?

It’s a kind of a freestyle based on observation and a particular way of thinking about life. I identify problems and imagine solutions to solve them whilst weighing up the pros and cons that these innovations would bring. I try to open doors so that professionals, companies and the general public discover new opportunities, challenges, issues and shortcomings. By sharing my ideas with the community, I use feedback to develop them further.

Does imagining tomorrow’s mobility mean we have to break with today’s framework?

We have to stop thinking of vehicles as a means of getting from A to B. They need to allow us to do more for example, reduce stress, communicate and work better. Also reduce the risk of accidents and why not improve the environment instead of making it worse?

So what is the mad streak that differentiates the engineer from the inventor?

The engineer is trained to problem-solve, one problem after the other, stone after stone. It’s a rational approach that is different to the inventor, who will first define his idea and then seek the means to achieve it without necessarily taking the time to check all hypotheses. I find there are many advantages to be gained by drawing inspiration from the two approaches, but I’m also inspired by a third category, that is the industrial designers who are not involved in the actual invention but more its form and functionalities.

And who are the individuals that have inspired you?

Sam Lapointe. He was the first industrial designer at Bombardier Recreative Products (BRP). He designed hundreds of snowmobiles, motocross, watercraft and other avant-garde concepts for the company from the 60’s to the 80’s. When I was a child, I saw and tested several of his inventions. His work and that of other industrial designers, engineers and technicians working at Bombardier Recreative Products have always inspired me (and still inspire me).

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