With the 4th EDF Pulse Internal Awards competition, the company is making the most of the ideas and creativity of its employees to help promote innovation. 11 prizes were awarded, including two by all the staff.
EDF is keen to encourage progress and is drawing upon the skills of its own people to develop innovative projects. Although with the EDF Pulse External Awards, the company is already working to actively support projects put forward by European start-ups, it is also looking to showcase the talent of its own staff by making the most of their creativity. With this in mind, the EDF Pulse Internal Awards are intended to reward research and projects put forward by the company’s employees. Staff can compete in six categories (please see inset). “The EDF Pulse Internal Competition boosts the motivation of staff for their projects and speeds up their development”, explained G. Cerardi, the 2016 prize winner for “Digital domestic hot water”, a project making it possible to heat domestic water using the heat generated by computer servers”.
Spotlight on 3 winners
METROSCOPE INNOVATION PRIZE FOR INDUSTRIAL PERFORMANCE
Metroscope is like a stethoscope for industrial sites. The AI system was developed by R&D researchers. Metroscope can diagnose underperformance in an industrial facility in real-time.
“The project is currently being rolled out across the nuclear plant pool. It will be marketed to our external industrial clients,” explains Michel Vanhaesbrouck, manager of EDF Nouveaux Business
SMART ENR REGIONAL INNOVATION PRIZE
Smart ENR was specifically designed for the new eco-neighbourhood in Nanterre. It’s the first dual electric and thermal smart grid in France. The grid will supply heating, hot water, and air conditioning using at least 60% renewable energies.
The smart electric grid generates and stores electricity for later consumption through a cogenerator powered by rapeseed oil and photovoltaic energy. The smart thermal grid supplied by near-surface geothermal energy is connected to different buildings, pooling occupants’ needs and promoting heat exchange between buildings (offices, housing, shops etc.).
ILE DE SEIN, LAB OF THE FUTURE INNOVATION PRIZE FOR THE ENERGY TRANSITION
Ile de Sein is at risk from rising sea levels. Most of the electricity on the island comes from diesel engines. The island plans to reduce CO2 emissions, with energy independence envisaged by 2030 using 100% renewable energies.
The small size of the island and significant variations in demand will complicate the integration of renewable energies. The project will require the involvement of the town council and residents.
EDF is trialling an innovative mini grid on the island and has installed smart management in the electrical system, combining centralised storage with new algorithms. A custom utility load dispatcher was designed for remote management of generators and storage. This will help to maintain energy balance in the limited system.
Novel and collaborative projects
Although the categories are specific, the assessment criteria are universal, and concern all competitors. To succeed, each project must be innovative, unusual and bold, not to mention effective, enabling EDF to stand out in a given sector or to make an impact by creating added value or expectations. Another vital factor for success is that each project should be easily reproducible, both internally, thanks to well-controlled costs and reproducibility conditions, and externally with a sound business model. Finally, to encourage perfection, the projects should be collaborative and include a degree of co-creation with EDF’s partners. Consequently, no competitors work alone and all are involved in cooperation and collaboration with other units within the company or with various outside partners. “The discussions with the start-ups were very rewarding” recalls Frédéric Gastiger, an award winner thanks to “My Smart thermostat services”, a thermostat programmed with algorithms which adjust the way boilers operate to match each consumer’s usage.
A study trip for the finalists
To take part, the employees had to present their project their manager who, after approval, referred them to his or her superiors. 24 finalist teams, 4 per category, comprised of a maximum of 4 employees each, were chosen by the selection committees made up of company managers. 3 final juries made up of members of EDF’s executive board will choose the winner in each category.
For this 4th event, the EDF Pulse internal awards will be focusing on renewal, seeking to be closer and more collaborative, with the emphasis on compatibility with the Cap 2030 Group strategy. Efforts also being made to make it easier for staff to vote. As a result, the staff themselves will play the role of jury members until 6 October and will be able to vote for their favourite project on the company’s social network site. The two contestants receiving the most votes will receive a Staff Choice Award. In the opinion of Olivier Menu, who was awarded the prize in 2016 for “Eco-glasshouse: valuable waste”, a solution which supplies horticultural glasshouses thanks to energy generated by waste, recognition by co-workers is “particularly meaningful. I was very proud to have received this award”.
At the end of the year, all prize winners will be invited to take part in a study trip to innovative cities. In 2016, the learning expedition took them to New York. The participants had an opportunity to discover the city’s vibrant creative scene, with a number of visits and interviews. The 3-day programme included meetings with representatives from LinkedIn, with Gaurav Manchada, founder and CEO of One Degree Solar, dinner with French entrepreneurs living in the United States, a visit to the offices of Twitter, of Enertiv, a start-up proposing smart building management solutions, or of New York University’s Urban Future Lab. All of these visits and meetings proved a great source of inspiration and creativity. “I was very lucky to have been able to take part in this trip. Who couldn’t feel fortunate to be able to visit Twitter and LinkedIn, and to talk to their managers?” explains Didier Colin, who scooped the award thanks to “Venteea is preparing the grid of tomorrow”, a solution to improve grid efficiency and better integrate the production of wind power.
The EDF Pulse internal awards are divided into six categories:
Innovation to boost the competitiveness and safety of production facilities.
Innovation to improve operational efficiency.
New technology to improve the storage of energy, its recovery or the management of its production.
Applications providing added value concerning customer relations and the consumption and management of energy.
Health & Safety
Innovation to improve the health and safety of staff and service providers.
To promote solutions to further the EDF Group’s geographical presence and development.