In order to promote entrepreneurship, Witteveen+Bos has defined ‘innovation’ as a spearhead. In 2017, we set up the Plus+ innovation programme to develop new and relevant ideas, convert them quickly into market-ready products, and help our employees apply them.
The main element of the programme was an innovation competition: we asked all 1,100 Witteveen+Bos employees to submit innovative ideas through an online platform specially set up for this purpose. So-called ‘hubs’ and ‘campaigns’ have been defined to support this process. Hubs are existing networks related to our business lines. For each hub, a vision has been formulated and a campaign set up. All submitted ideas were assigned to a specific campaign. The following hubs and campaigns were defined:
- Smart Cities: How can we predict and generate the perfect city?
- Smart Deltas: How can we engineer, inspect and maintain our deltas in the most cost-efficient manner?
- Smart Cycles: How can we identify, specify and develop sustainable closed cycles within our sector?
- Smart Infra and Mobility: How can we engineer resilient and adaptive infrastructure to empower communities?
- Smart Company: How can we work as a future-oriented engineering firm?
A total of 170 innovation ideas were submitted by 170 teams with over 400 Witteveen+Bos employees as members. The large number of submissions presented quite a challenge for the jury, who eventually selected 16 ideas to proceed in the ‘accelerator phase’. This three-month programme offered guidance and expertise to the teams, as well as an opportunity to develop their ideas.
The results of the accelerator phase were presented at our TKB staff meeting in September 2017. At this event, the winning concept was also announced: Fire Safety Engineering in Virtual Reality, a VR tool for the analysis of smoke propagation and evacuation processes in buildings and infrastructure. The article below provides more information about this tool, which has already been applied in practice. All 16 selected teams are currently taking further steps on the path from innovation to entrepreneurship, by developing their business and marketing plans and assessing them in contacts with our clients. After all, with our ideas we want to make a positive contribution to addressing society’s challenges. Although the Plus+ programme has not yet been completed, we can safely conclude that it has already been highly successful. The large number of submissions and their high calibre, the tight schedule, the level of enthusiasm, energy and inspiration and the exceptional results all show that the joint development of innovative ideas is and always will be part of our corporate DNA as engineers. Or in the words of jury member Wouter Truffino of Holland ConTech: ‘What happened at Witteveen+Bos in the past six months is truly unique in my view, and you should all be very proud. Only a small number of companies could have accomplished this. Witteveen+Bos employees are exceptionally good at devising new concepts that contribute to people’s well-being. It was very inspiring to experience the whole process up-close.’