Implenia develops and deploys new services, products and methods so that construction can have a sustainable and economically viable future. The company gets its innovative strength from various sources: from intrapreneurship among employees, from Open Innovation ideas generated by start-ups, universities and technology companies, as well as from investment in or acquisition of SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups that create sustainable added value with new business models. Often – and this is the ideal scenario – innovations, including those in the area of sustainability, are driven by the operational business. Karel van Eechoud, Senior Innovation Manager and Head of the Implenia Innovation Hub, highlights a few examples:
“Goldbox” HS-EPS yielding support element
Since 2019, Implenia has been using an established process called Kickbox to tap into its employees’ potential to innovate. By the end of 2022, a total of 93 ideas had been submitted and reviewed via the Group-wide Kickbox programme; 16 pilot projects have now been implemented. In 2022, one particular product, an HS-EPS yielding support element, was developed through to the “Goldbox” stage. Thanks to the Kickbox process,
Manuel Entfellner, site manager at the Semmering tunnel construction site in Austria, was able to show that his idea is feasible and has real market potential. His innovative yielding support element is lighter and safer than existing products, and is quicker to use. Following extensive testing, it is now being used in other tunnelling projects – such as the Brenner Base Tunnel. Read more:
HS-EPS yielding support elements
Expertise of ETH students harnessed to implement ideas for innovation
Following the Open Innovation approach, the innovation team submitted innovation ideas to the Innovation Leadership Seminar at ETH Zurich for the third year in a row. “These are four specific challenges for Implenia that we sourced from our Divisions and are now seeking to solve with the help of ETH students.” One of these ideas concerns life-cycle analysis in tunnel construction – a relatively new topic in Swiss and German markets. A second relates to the development of a calculator that can determine the break-even point for energy-related modernisation measures in building construction. This will enable Implenia to analyse portfolios quickly and give the client optimised proposals.
Alternative energy sources for construction sites
As part of a government-backed pilot project in Norway, Implenia is currently working with a partner company to find a fossil-free alternative way of providing construction sites with electricity. Energy specialist TECO 2030 is developing a hydrogen fuel cell generator with an output of 2 x 0.4 megawatts. Implenia is supporting TECO with its practical experience and will start testing the generator on its construction sites by the end of 2023.