Digitalization, population aging, the climate transition, urbanization: the major societal trends impact our daily work. Innovation is a driving force that must enable us to project and position ourselves in these developments. Incremental innovation, but also disruptive innovation, which breaks our habits, and our way of understanding our business.
Disruptive innovation is reshuffling the deck. How can we facilitate this process of creativity and – let’s hope! – continuous improvement that challenges our habits?
AC Pliska: To foster disruptive innovation, it is often necessary to open up to other organizations, to encourage a mix of sectors. Linking up with startups or research institutes is a classic example of framework conditions that can foster disruptive innovation within an organization. But setting up innovation ecosystems does not stop there. It can also include collaborating with companies in other sectors. In recent years, we have seen improbable collaborations between health insurance companies and logisticians, or between car distributors and insurance companies.
Why have we seen a surge in collaborative innovation in the last years?
AC Pliska: This is a good question. The digitization of entire economic sectors makes available data that can easily be combined. Data fusion is the key concept here. Data can indeed be exchanged easily and becomes a kind of fluid between business sectors. New applications and business models can thus be born from these uses of data outside their original sector of activity. Let’s take the example of the automotive and insurance sectors. When an insurance policyholder subscribes to a tracking device for his/her car, he/she can benefit from a discount on his/her insurance fees. The same goes for someone who agrees to wear an activity tracker: he/she can receive a refund on his/her health insurance products.
What are the open innovation initiative BG is taking part?
AC Pliska: BG is currently experimenting with several open innovation initiatives and the creation of innovation ecosystems:
- Several disruptive innovation projects have been launched between BG and startups in fields as diverse as the circular economy, water and waste treatment, hydrogen, Building Information Modelling, etc.
- BG launches the Boost My Startup Challenge to support and collaborate with a startup in the fields of engineering, construction, real estate, energy, logistics and mobility. Applications can be submitted from August 30 until September 26!
- BG participated in the Red Lab Hackathon on the use of data in the energy sector: after the 3 Hackathon sessions over 3 days in April/May this year, which saw the participation of 6 engineers from BG, we are now present in 3 projects that will receive seed money from Innosuisse.
- BG is present with several of its engineers in different Innosuisse and OFEN / BfE project consortia with EPFL.
- Our company participates in several National Thematic Networks (NTN): Energy Lab, Swiss Smart City (launch in 2022), and Circular Economy in the building Industry (launch in 2022).
- We are also increasing our contacts with the academic world to understand how and on which subjects we could collaborate.
In the search for optimal solutions to societal issues impacting the fields of engineering, construction, real estate, energy, logistics and mobility, and more, BG is strengthening its collaboration with external organizations, whether they be startups, research institutes or universities.