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Other innovations 23/06/2016

Innovation Week Tractebel: Innovation is everyone's business

We continue our world tour of events held during ENGIE Innovation Week 2016 with Tractebel, which can be considered ENGIE’s engineering and expert consulting arm.Karim Karoui, Technical Director of the Energy Transition department, was one of the organizers of a series of events intended to highlight the fact that innovation is everyone's business.

Hello Karim. What is the importance of innovation for Tractebel?

The energy landscape is undergoing a major transformation: the ways we produce, consume and manage energy are being reinvented. Increasing volumes of renewable energy are being incorporated into energy systems, energy sources are increasingly decentralized and digitization is affecting a wide range of processes and energy flows.

Tractebel, as an operational entity of the ENGIE Group, has to consider and respond to new needs that arise from these changes. Tractebel’s business is engineering, and we are reinventing our products to meet these new challenges. This is where innovation makes sense.

Innovation must be seen as a process – a state of mind even – and can’t just be a matter for a few specialists!

Since the beginning of the year, the Energy Transition department has included a small team that is responsible for leading and coordinating innovation throughout the company. The principle is to collect new ideas from employees through an ideas box, to identify those with sufficient potential from the business model perspective, and to support them in getting to the product stage.

Innovation Week fit into this framework at Tractebel, with our main concern being to strengthen the belief that innovation involves everyone, at all levels of the company.

How was Tractebel involved Innovation Week?

We identified three main areas:

- Each business line (business team) presented innovative projects that were displayed on kakemonos placed in the office lobby. The goal here was to allow all of our employees to learn about innovative projects that had already been initiated and the role they themselves could play in sharing innovation.

- A presentation of the Power Corner project, also in the lobby. This incubated project involving a micro energy community is currently in the deployment phase, with a pilot in Tanzania, and helps provide electricity in the most remote areas. A virtual tour of the village and the technical installation was available throughout the week.

- Finally, innovation-themed conferences were held every lunchtime. They featured internal and external speakers on specific topics.

  • On Monday, June 6, we got feedback from Power Corner by Frederick Madry, one of the main project leaders.
  • On Tuesday, June 7, the theme was collaboration between the various entities of the Group, which ENGIE Lab participated. DRT presented its activities as well as a peer-to-peer energy project involving close collaboration between the DRT and Tractebel. Tractebel in France also showcased the FreezeBee application, which was selected by ENGIE employees in the "Do innovation yourself too" competition.
  • On Wednesday, June 8th, we had the opportunity to hear an introductory speech by Mr Thierry Lepercq, who is in charge of Innovation for the ENGIE Group. We also wanted to give some time to someone from outside the Group, so we invited invited representatives from the European Commission who are in charge of capitalizing on collaborative R&D projects and a speaker from IMEC, a world leading company in nanoelectronics research. Our French colleagues also presented the FACLAB approach, which is a kind of ideas laboratory.
  • On Thursday, June 9th, we invited speakers from the Belgian startups Swan Insight and Hipperos and the European independent research center VITO. Swan Insight presented the business dimension of their big data analytics. Hipperos emphasized the importance that real-time operating systems will have within embedded devices. And VITO explained the process of moving from idea to innovation while considering how to maintain a sustainable environment.
  • On the last day, Friday 10th, we presented our internal innovation process. This included the various aspects of the approach, the suggestion box, the thematic workshops, etc.

Note also that each of these conferences was presented by members of Tractebel’s Executive Committee, emphasizing the importance of innovation for Tractebel.

What is your assessment of how the week went?

It was obviously positive, with particularly good levels of participation for some of the conference lunches in particular. For me, another highlight was the involvement and availability of all of our Top Management, which highlighted how important our focus on Innovation is.

The week was also an opportunity to brainstorm and exchange views on the importance of innovation in our processes.
Everyone must be aware of the essential aspect of innovation for the company. It’s everyone's business.

Source: Christine Leroy

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