Cooling and green data centers constitute business priorities for the region, but also more generally for ENGIE.
Awarded by the Economic Development Board, a government agency, this grant will support the development of new skills around low-carbon cooling systems, greening data centers and integrating renewable energies into the local energy mix.
Explanations with Loïc Villocel, its director.
Loïc, in concrete terms, how are you going to use this grant? What will it change for you and your teams?
This new grant will allow us to move to a new scale as our team is expected to double within three years. It is not only about boosting the size of the team but also its maturity. One of the challenges is to include our actions in an increasingly global approach to our areas of expertise, by being recognized beyond Singapore, in the region and elsewhere, internally and externally. In order to recruit, we will rely on the local university ecosystem with which we already signed partnerships and with whom Lab researchers have forged links through their own university career. Thanks to a better anchoring in the local ecosystem, we will also have easier access to public subsidies. We will thus optimize our sources of income to find significant leverage effects to finance the research programs of the ENGIE Group.
What are your ambitions for the next three years?
We are going to enter a phase of growth and develop new expertise on subjects that respond to strong challenges locally, both for the Singaporean government and for ENGIE, while having a potential impact of deployment in Asia-Pacific and globally. We have identified two new major topics: cooling and green data centers. These two themes constitute business priorities for the region, but also more generally for ENGIE. To identify these priorities, we carried out more than 70 internal and external interviews, bringing together actors from both the State, research and business. By doing so, we wanted to adopt a long-term strategy that makes sense and resonates with the Group's commercial challenges. It has also enabled us to give even more meaning to our research and innovation work, giving it very concrete perspectives. To be more efficient, especially on these two themes, we will of course continue to develop historical expertise and existing assets, in particular our test platform (REIDS SPORE) commissioned at the end of 2020 which will allow the development of pilot projects. in real conditions to better prepare the commercial deployment of different types of integrated offers.
What are the links between research and business?
They are the key to success! The role of a research center like ours is to contribute to the commercial success of ENGIE in the region by developing expertise aligned with business needs and differentiating innovative solutions that can be integrated into commercial offers. Our new R&D priorities are now fully aligned with ENGIE's business priorities in the region. The impact of this research applied to business is already bearing fruit with two commercial offers (Pfizer and NTUC FairPrice) won this year thanks to our support to business developers. ENGIE has great ambitions in the region, in particular around District Cooling, green data centers and integrated offers. And we now have the keys and an important card to play to help the business make a difference to the competition.
Why is the Economic Development Board, a government agency, investing alongside you?
The Economic Development Board (EDB) has supported us from the very beginning. Five years ago it was the first to have granted us a grant to help us set up the company. This help made it possible to finance our first phase of skills development around the decarbonisation of industry and smart grids, and to build our platform - called REIDS SPORE - to demonstrate innovative low-carbon solutions in real and tropical conditions. The fact that EDB invests again in the Lab until 2024 is a testament to the credibility we have acquired in the local ecosystem and the desire of the Singaporean government to position itself as a world leader in innovation and new technologies.
You can also read: R&D: Foster Innovation in carbon neutral
More about Loïc Villocel
With a double engineering degree and a specialization in gas, Loïc Villocel started his career in gas infrastructure. Coordinator within ENGIE of the first call for projects launched by the French government in the field of hydrogen (2016), he then developed new innovative low-carbon offers for large manufacturers before becoming director of ENGIE Lab Singapore in June 2019.
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