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Smart buildings 23/11/2018

ENGIE Axima: innovate faster and go further with calls for projects

ENGIE AXIMA, along with ENGIE UK, is the main user of the Group’s tools for open innovation. On May 31, 2018, they launched their 8th call for projects, entitled "Sports Facilities of the Future".Now, with the winner having been announced, three of their representatives – Samir Boukhalfa, Director of Innovation Projects; Julie Trognon, Innovation Project Manager; and Anouk Beaufumé, Project Manager for Global Offers – answered our questions.

In what context do you usually use these calls for projects, and what do you think of the tool?

We’re starting to be fairly experienced and always proceed in the same way: through a brainstorm session either internally or with the partners from a tender during which we set out the main ideas to be developed or the innovative solutions we’re looking for and the expected levels of maturity.

For this call for projects, we had many ideas but no "ready to use" or directly marketable solution. So the aim of the call for projects was to identify digital solutions that make sites more attractive and that provide new services for the users and operators of sports facilities while involving them directly in energy and environmental performance. Lastly, it should allow us to integrate these solutions into to our offering more quickly.

The ENGIE Innovation platform provides good visibility for our need for solutions and gives us access to a very large ecosystem of startups. The support of the ENGIE Innovation is very much appreciated in helping us in this process and saves us a lot of time.

There were 18 responses to this call for projects. What did you think about the quality of the projects submitted and how suitable they were for your needs?

When we were designing the call for projects we explicitly made a long list of requests. We got very diverse responses: platforms, sports products, digital solutions, tools for BIM or systems for following up on performance. As a result, not everything was directly relevant to the bid response, but as an innovation department it was easy for us to link these to other needs in other ongoing projects. This was the case for two submitted projects about BIM that we pushed to our BIM Factory!

The call for projects also gave us international visibility and the ability to reach startups around the world; we had responses from Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, even Indonesia!

So now you have a winner and a favorite response for this call for projects. What criteria did you use to choose them?

The shortlisted projects were analyzed based on four criteria (technical feasibility, overall cost of implementation, value creation, digital and value created from data). The selection committee was made up of local sports figures, representatives from our partners Euratechnologies and Artois Vallée, and employees of ENGIE and ENGIE AXIMA.

After deliberating we chose Vivaciti, a connected sportswear solution, as the winner of the call for projects. A "Committee’s Choice" award was also given to M&R Devices and its connected bibs in recognition of the maturity and quality of their offering, despite the fact that it wasn’t the most relevant solution for our project.

And what are the next steps with the winner?

Vivaciti’s solution has been integrated into our proposal for the tender. The project is currently on standby pending a decision from our client in order to trigger the operational phase.

These calls for projects are very useful for highlighting our initiative-taking and innovative spirit among our customers, but we have to be careful not to get trapped in a "marketing" only approach. This means we must give ourselves the means to work with these startups in a sustainable way. But it is undoubtedly a process that would be interesting to continue at the Group level and to share among the ENGIE innovation community.

Source: Christine Leroy

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