Operating in 70 countries, Suez is a world-leader in the fields of water and waste management. Loïc Voisin, head of innovation, marketing and industrial performance, discusses the challenges faced by the group and highlights the importance of innovation in the environmental sector.
Leaders League. Innovation and research are the key elements of Suez’s business strategy. What specific initiatives are you implementing in this respect?
Loϊc Voisin. We have developed various practical solutions to the challenges of modern cities. The most significant example would be one of our digital solutions, Aquadvanced, developed for the management of drinking water distribution and sanitation networks. We have installed sensors throughout these networks. The data we collect and process allows us to remodel these systems and optimize their management in real-time. In developed countries, almost 20% of the drinking water produced is lost before even reaching the consumer because of outdated facilities. Thanks to this intelligent system, we are able to quickly detect leaks and respond efficiently to fix any abnormalities.
Suez actively supports startups, mainly through Suez Ventures. Which landmark innovations has this investment fund detected and how have they been incorporated into the group?
We work with over 120 partners across the world, ranging from universities to large industrial firms as well as incubators and startups. We have, for example, helped the startup SigrenEa to develop a smart waste-collection system which works by installing microchips at recyclable waste drop-off points so as to control how full they are from a distance and in near real-time. This system allows us to optimize the management and replacement by collection services. We are currently continuing to promote its development.
We’re also involved in an open innovation program called Data City, organized by the incubator Numa in collaboration with the city of Paris, the State and private-sector businesses, which aims to address the challenges posed by the city of the future, using data to transform the capital into a huge playground. We have also developed an app with the startup Craft.ai which enables us to reduce the presence of refuse bins in the streets by 46%.
In which business lines do you see the development of innovation to be most urgent?
It is urgent that we take action for the environment, in the broadest and most serious sense of the term. Our water resources are coming under more and more pressure each year. We are also producing increasing amounts of waste on a global level and it is absolutely critical that we start reusing and recycling this. The problems which come with our cities represent another challenge to overcome since urban populations are constantly growing.
Interview by Margaux Savarit-Cornali
Translated from French by Eloise Lake