Spanish energy company Iberdrola launches innovation centre in Qatar

15 March 2018

Spanish multinational power company Iberdrola has launched a new innovation centre in Qatar to collaborate and consult on the digitisation of energy systems, with a focus on smart grids, energy efficiency, and the system integration of renewables.

The Iberdrola Innovation Middle East centre will seek to deliver new products and services for digital utility, “working at the intersection of energy and information and communication technologies,” and is located at Qatar’s Science & Technology Park, which has been established as an international hub for technological innovation in the primary areas of energy, environment, the health sciences and ICT.

In addition to acting as a research and development center, Iberdrola Innovation Middle East is intended to serve as the regional base for the group’s operations in the Middle East. The firm has been active in Qatar since at least 2004 through its engineering arm, and oversaw the construction of the $2 billion Mesaieed combined cycle plant – which at a capacity of 2000MV is one of the largest in the Middle East.

In 2011, Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of the state’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIT), signed a strategic partnership with Iberdrola, becoming one of its principal shareholders in the process. At the time, Iberdrola’s Chairman Ignacio Galán said that he foresaw cooperation in areas such as the development of Qatar’s energy policy – including the diversification from gas into renewables and greater sustainability, a field of particularly strong focus for the firm.

Spanish energy company Iberdrola launches innovation centre in Qatar

According to Iberdrola, it spent €246 million in R&D&I last year, primarily into projects related to clean energy, smart grids and digital transformations, (a 17% investment increase on the previous year), and was ranked the third most innovative utility in Europe by the European Commission. The company’s website notes its drive toward “environmentally-friendly energy sources” and commitment to the “fight against climate change.”

Galán also said at the time of the QIT deal that the firm intended to create a local centre for research, and seven years later the company has delivered on its promise. “As part of Iberdrola’s commitment with Qatar, I’m pleased to inaugurate Iberdrola Innovation Middle East,” Galán said at the recent launch, “which, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 objectives, is meant to become a technology benchmark for the energy industry through an open innovation programme in partnership with our associates and universities.”

Responding in turn, Dr Hamad al-Ibrahim, the executive vice-president of the Qatar Foundation Research & Development, the body overseeing the technological park, said; “We look forward to seeing great things emerge from this centre and hope it will be a catalyst for more technology companies to join us in accelerating the development of their products, and in helping make Qatar a global hub of research, development and tech innovation.”

Innovation park

Iberdrola will join other current big-name tenants at the science and technology park including Cisco, General Electric, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Vodafone, SAP and Siemens – the latter of which has joined Iberdrola in a strategic regional alliance to combine sector expertise in delivering smart grid renewable integrations for the Middle East.

In terms of consumption, Agustin Delgado, Director of Innovation, Environment and Quality for Iberdrola, was quoted as saying that just in Qatar alone there were huge savings to be made on power bills through greater efficiencies; “We think we can reduce them by 30 percent, which would be $2 billion every year.” Recently, consulting firm Strategy& cited Egypt’s social campaign to reduce electricity consumption as a successful regional intervention at the public level.

Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019

The Middle East branch of international construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has launched a new innovation hub in Dubai

Following the appointment of ex-Ramboll exec Abdulmajid Karanouhas as its Head of Interdisciplinary Design & Innovation earlier this year to spearhead the firm’s R&D drive in the Middle East, the local branch of German-origin construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has now launched a new innovation hub in Dubai – designed as a collaborative environment to serve both external start-ups and its own employees.

“It has always been part of our corporate culture to promote our own ideas and initiatives,” said Drees & Sommer executive board member Steffen Szeidl. “Increasingly, digital transformation and our clients are calling for completely new and disruptive business models. The Innovation Centre is one of our responses to these challenges. All 3,200 staff members can upload their ideas virtually.”

According to Szeidl, from there, promising concepts and solutions addressing identified market gaps in areas such as planning, construction and operations will be developed, funded and localised for any market which sees the potential. He continues: “Adding the Dubai innovation hub emphasises our status as a global innovation company by being one of the few companies doing R&D in this region.”Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in DubaiLocally established in 2003, Drees & Sommer was founded close to 50 years ago in Stuttgart, since growing to include some 40 offices worldwide, with its global headcount of 3,200 professionals generating revenues upwards of $430 million in 2017. The firm’s offerings span the gamut of real estate and infrastructure requirements, delivered according to its ‘blue way’, which takes into account economic, functionality, and ecological aspects together.

This, for Drees & Sommer, is an important point in the regional context.  “There is a huge demand in this market for contextual solutions as most models and systems are imported from abroad with little to no adaptation to the local culture, economy, and environment,” explains Karanouh. “As a consequence of this approach, we are facing major challenges related to user-comfort, efficiency, manageability, durability, and overall sustainability and feasibility of the built environment in the region.”

Accordingly, the firm has tailored each of its innovation hubs rolled out so far across the world to drive specific initiatives. In Aachen, Germany’s ‘Silicon Valley’, for example, there is a focus on customised smart buildings, IoT product testing and cyber-security, while the firm’s Stuttgart hub focuses on start-ups and processes and its Berlin one on smart cities and smart quarters. The Netherlands hub meanwhile focuses on wellbeing and sustainable innovation.

Karanouh: “The innovation hub brings together specialists of various disciplines from across the industry as a single interdisciplinary team that advises clients from early feasibility studies all the way to operation and revitalisation of buildings to maximise comfort, efficiency, sustainability, return of investment and overall value. The platform allows for brainstorming ideas, identifying market gaps and needs, adapting existing solutions or/and developing new solutions tailored to the local market and environment.”