The innovation accelerator
The i-lab helps accelerate the pace of the Group’s innovation and explore new markets. Place for reflection, experimentation and incubation, the i-lab develops new offers in partnership with the Group’s Innovation entities, operational teams and World Business Lines.
active partnerships with startups
The i-lab relies on a reflection structure - the Think Tank - which investigates new usages. The Think Tank analyzes the impact of the major social trends on the future behavior of the end consumers and on the associated value chains and draw up scenarios.
The i-Lab brings together engineers, scientists and experts of 8 nationalities from a diverse spectrum of disciplines - including historians, anthropologists and designers - all with the ability to develop disruptive ideas.
By focusing on the habits of end-user consumers, our experimentation structure studies the technical feasibility and the financial viability of our new ideas. It materializes those ideas and carries out early-stage user tests based on prototypes created using cutting-edge facilities such as 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters and digital modeling.
The team also leverages design skills to facilitate the use of developed solutions and digital to offer new user experiences.
The i-lab incubates those proofs of concept until maturity so that they can be developed outside the i-lab thanks to the Group entities.
With its “Breathe in the City” initiative, Air Liquide’s i-Lab intends to develop new offerings with the Group’s employees joining forces with young companies and design schools, to meet the numerous challenges arising in terms of air quality: reducing polluting emissions, helping patients with respiratory difficulties, providing clean air on the move, measuring, mapping and treating air quality.
The i-Lab launched the “Breathe in the City” Design competition, in which 110 students from 10 industrial design schools from eight different countries took part. Students were asked to come up with a product, service or application to directly or indirectly combat air pollution indoors, outdoors or on the move. A team from the i-Lab worked with the candidates to help them understand the subject of air pollution and its effects on city-dwellers and then to focus their ideas. Several promising suggestions by the students are currently being studied with a view to transforming them into prototypes. This competition allowed Air Liquide to provide input on innovative solutions relating to air quality.
In 2015, the i-Lab developed “Caring for my Air” a service designed for professionals and organizations looking to provide their employees and customers with a healthier working environment. Based on a network of connected devices, “Caring for my Air” measures air quality continuously, and provides access to real-time data through an online dashboard. Using the analysis of the collected data, the offer includes a diagnosis and then an action plan for the company or organization to help it continuously improve the quality of indoor air. “Caring for my Air”, developed and based on an entrepreneurial approach, is currently being tested at several companies and local authorities in France and China.
One of our initiatives, the Rock My Plant competition, launched in 2013, invited architecture students to envision and design the Air Liquide oxygen production plant of the future. In all, 65 students from schools of architecture in France, Italy, Poland and Turkey reinvented the oxygen production plant both aesthetically and structurally. A total of 40 schemes were submitted during the competition period, with five receiving awards, among which: