Specific R&D+i department. Technological innovation is part of the Eiffage Group’s DNA, as demonstrated by over 170 years of history. The importance that this matter has been acquiring in all of Eiffage Energía’s lines of business, has led to the need to have a specific department that would be the driving force behind the company’s R&D+i efforts. The purpose of this department is to foster a greater culture of innovation that showcases the best ideas gathered from our internal talent and from our customers. At Eiffage Energía, we believe innovation directly improves competitiveness, favours the generation of new processes and products to deliver to our clients, and represents greater value-added for internal consumption.
According to the department’s director, José Antonio Díez de Pablos, in this department “we try to identify opportunities for R&D+i projects that involve a social and/or economic return on investment. Once identified, we assist in their planning and try to obtain financing for them. Lastly, we support its development and administrative justification”.
Role of R&D+i in the current situation caused by COVID
It is true that the current environment is uncertain. But it is precisely at times like this when the best opportunities to innovate present themselves in solving the raft of challenges posed by the situation in almost all sectors. “Innovation has a fundamental role to play, and I think it will be a differentiating factor after the health emergency we are experiencing. I think that, with the necessary reconstruction of the economy, innovation will be a fundamental tool for the survival and growth of many companies,” says Díez de Pablos. The process is not simple. That is why it is important to have a structure and diverse resources to make them a reality. Ideas are generated in many internal and external places; the essential thing is to discover, analyse and showcase them.
Employees are part of the creative process
Therefore, one of the pillars of this department must be to facilitate the contribution of ideas from our own collaborators. To this end, as the department director explains, “we have designed a simple, multilevel procedure. The aim is to capture these ideas and make employees feel part of the creative process. We want to put in place a spirit of innovation by involving everyone who is part of the group”. At Eiffage Energía we are very clear that retaining talent is just as important as attracting it, and people who contribute ideas are just as necessary as those who develop them. “We have good and experienced professionals, supplemented with new talent thanks to the permanent contact and collaboration with training centres and universities. Because of the nature of our business, engineering profiles are the most common, and they are very familiar with project management,” says Díez de Pablos. Synergies, collaborations, consortia and participation are essential to carrying out R&D+i projects. In addition to universities, we have excellent relationships with various research centres and other companies and institutions. This will help to keep us up to date on the “state of the art” and allow for joint projects, which would otherwise be more complex.
Currently, the R&D+i department is in the initial phase of several projects related to biomedical engineering. Specifically, projects for the creation of different simulation, control and digitalization systems for medical devices, which would increase quality and safety in the diagnosis of different pathologies. In the Renewables area, we are evaluating optimisation of an existing project, of a flexible platform for the management of engineering projects and construction of infrastructures. “Throughout history, crises have been precursors of great opportunities for innovation. I think this pandemic will bring with it a significant social and economic return. The former in the short term and the latter in the medium term”, concludes Díez de Pablos.