The i-Lab aims at exploring new markets through a user-centric approach so as to detect, test and accelerate new growth opportunities for the Group. As a place for both reflection and experimentation, i-Lab spreads new ways of working and develops new offers, in conjunction with various entities in charge of innovation, operations and other business unit teams within the Group.
The i-Lab maintains an active technology watch to identify and understand new usages. It evaluates the impact that key social trends may have on the future behavior of the end users and the associated value chains, and analyzes new organizational and technological trends.
The i-Lab brings together employees from diverse nationalities and educational backgrounds, ranging from anthropology and biology to design, science and other disciplines.
By focusing on the usage of the end-users, the intrapreneurs of the i-Lab study the technical feasibility and financial viability of disruptive projects with real-life applications. They materialize those ideas and carry out early-stage user tests based on prototypes created using cutting-edge equipment 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 by relying on the Group entities.
Improving air quality is a major environmental and health challenge. Several i-Lab teams are now developing projects in response to this challenge on the base of early-stage exploratory research designed to understand the concerns and needs of the end-users. One of these projects is a pilot solution for indoor air purification, that is treating the air used in building ventilation systems. This project is one of the winners selected by UrbanLab, the urban experimentation laboratory of the City of Paris in France.
i-Lab also commits to work closely with other stakeholders (companies, public authorities, startups, researchers and others) to facilitate the emergence of projects improving urban air quality. In this context, i-Lab is a member of AIRLAB, an innovation accelerator dedicated to air quality.
The Hello Tomorrow Challenge can count on the committed support of Air Liquide ever since its first edition in 2014. In line with its open innovation approach, Air Liquide and particularly the i-Lab are focused on identifying the technologies and usages that may emerge from the ecosystem of deep tech startups. In 2018 and 2019 Air Liquide teams met with inspiring and experienced entrepreneurs at Hello Tomorrow’s regional events in France, Singapore, Turkey and Japan, reflecting the Group’s global open innovation approach. After 6 months of work the jury composed of 30 Air Liquide experts selected 6 most promising deep tech startups out of 40 candidates from diverse fields and geographies.
Connection to such innovation ecosystem as Hello Tomorrow allows Air Liquide to access new technologies and supports deep tech entrepreneurs in accelerating the industrialisation of their solutions. This win-win collaboration is the principle of our relationship with startups.