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Vinci celebrates innovation at awards event

Vinci last week held an awards event to celebrate innovations developed across its roads and energy, construction and concessions business lines.

This year, the overall Grand Prize in the final stage of the competition was awarded to Vinci Concessions for its Pirandello software, which aims to assist public decision making by simulating choices in terms of population and employment as a function of urban transport.

“In this economically tough climate, the Innovation Awards Competition reminds us that the winners are those who are constantly attentive to their customers, who know how to improve production processes, and who constantly seek to update their offerings and differentiate themselves from the competition,” said Vinci director and chief executive officer Xavier Huillard.

Runners up for the Grand Prize - gathered from winners of individual categories - included the Geomix process developed through a Soletanche Bachy/Soletanche Freyssinet/Vinci Construction collaboration. In this method, soil is mixed insitu using a soil mixing cutter, a tool derived from hydromilling techniques and normally used for diaphragm walls. This process represents a technological breakthrough because walls and foundations can be built without concrete and virtually without excavated materials and the soil in place is used as a building material.

“The Geomix process …expands the field of application of soil mixing and allows better use of natural resources,” says Huillard.

The judges also singled out Ringway’s Turning the Tide initiative, which has been recruiting young ex-offenders as a way of dealing with predicted shortfall in skills and won the Management Prize, and the Vinci Construction Grands Projets (A)live on Site safety programme, which uses video along with chat sessions on site.

The firm has been holding the Innovation Awards competition every two years since 2001 with employees competing in 11 regions: seven in France (the North, West, South-West and South-East, Rhône-Alpes, East, Paris Region), three from the rest of the world (Northern Europe, Central Europe, International Europe) and one centralised region (Central Activities).

The 2009 competition saw almost 1,450 projects presented by over 3,500 employees from 34 countries - an increase of 33% more than in 2007.

The competition timetable is organised in two stages: the projects submitted are first examined in each region and later at Group level, where three to five regional prize-winners compete in the final stage. The competition categories (Materials, Processes and Techniques, Marketing and Services, Equipment and Tools, Management) reflect an open and pragmatic approach to innovation, over and above its purely technical dimensions. These categories are supplemented by two other prizes, “Sustainable Development” and “Safety”, together with “Special Prizes” that reward original innovations on a case-by-case basis.


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