The innovation accelerator
The i-Lab’s mission is to explore new markets with a usage-centered approach in order to identify, test and accelerate new growth opportunities for the Group. By being both a space of reflexion and experimentation, the i-Lab develops new offers linked to different Innovation entities, Operations and Group’s World business lines while being a vector of diffusion for new ways of working.
The i-Lab is conducting an active technological watch to analyze new usages. It evaluates the impact of the major social trends on the future behavior of the end customers and on the associated value chains. It also analyzes new organisational and technological trends.
The i-Lab brings together employees from six nationalities from a diverse spectrum of disciplines (ethnology, biology, neuro-sciences, oceanography…).
By focusing on the usages of the end-user consumers, the i-Lab studies the technical feasibility and the financial viability of concrete and disruptive projects. It materializes those ideas and carries out early-stage user tests based on prototypes created using cutting-edge equipments for 3D printing, laser cutting or digital modeling.
The team also leverages design skills to facilitate the use of developed solutions, and digital to offer new user experiences.
Connected to innovation ecosystems, the i-Lab incubates those proofs of concept until maturity to validate that they are creating value and then, supports their development outside the i-Lab thanks to the Group entities.
Air Liquide is a partner of the Hello Tomorrow challenge, an international competition for technology start-ups open to young researchers and entrepreneurs throughout the world. In 2016, this partnership allowed the i-Lab team to participate in assessing the 40 start-ups of the "Air Quality" category, pre-selected from criteria based on the proposed technical innovation, the targeted market potential, the social impact and the team’s profile. Several of the Group’s experts and managers had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with all of the participating start-ups.
Act for Air is a collaborative innovation platform aiming at gathering all initiatives to improve air quality in cities. Objective: getting all the relevant shareholders involved (industrial players, local authorities, start-ups, scientists, teacher-researchers) in developing innovation projects on this key topic for Air Liquide.
In 2016, Air Liquide’s i-Lab launched the "Boost my Op" student competition in France, in collaboration with Total, to imagine the operator of the future. Nearly 350 students in France grouped in 140 teams participated to the challenge with a goal to design technologies and safety services to simplify maintenance operations, the organisation of daily tasks or interactions with the industrial environment on the production sites.
The winners are: