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Focusing on digital initiatives, Braskem launches the Digital Challenge
The global action, which counted with 117 registered ideas and the voluntary participation of 215 employees, is part of the overall digital transformation actions of the company.
From 117 ideas submitted by employees worldwide to ten new business models in four weeks. Five of which will become internal startups, with the potential to become independent businesses in the future. This was the result of the Digital Challenge, an open innovation and intrapreneurship program launched by Braskem for its eight thousand employees that sought solutions to the challenges of the company and the chemical and petrochemical industry by sharing ideas from all the regions where the company operates.
The initiative is in line with Braskem’s digital transformation journey, which began three years ago with the integration of its digital strategy roadmap globally. The company has applied cutting-edge technologies – such as machine learning, advanced analytics and sensors – and innovative work methodologies – such as agile methodologies, design tools, and Management of Change – in different parts of its value chain. These new strategies have revolutionized the way the company optimizes its operational processes with a focus on energy efficiency, performs the maintenance of its assets and controls the quality of its products in a predictive manner, which guarantees Braskem a leading position in Industry 4.0.
Besides investing in innovation in its core business, Braskem is also diversifying its investment portfolio, creating new business models and incubating internal startups developed by the company itself. These so- called digital ventures, are initiatives linked to the company’s efforts to sustainable development, which considers innovation to be adaptable and the central to the search for a more sustainable future. In addition, these internal businesses have a mission to solve some of the most compelling pains impacting the company and the industry at large.
“In 2018, we started the digital transformation process and today it stands as one of our priorities. By incorporating technologies in strategic areas, such as operation and maintenance of our industrial plants, quality control, technical assistance and logistics, we generate value for the company, our employees and customers, reinforcing our global position as a reference in the industry in which we operate. The intention is to increase our leadership in innovation and in the use of new work methodologies and state-of-the-art technology, enhancing our competitiveness, and generating impact and sustainable results in the coming years with ambitious goals,” says Roberto Simões, CEO of Braskem.
The Digital Challenge was created to feed Braskem’s digital venture incubation program. It was designed as an open invitation to all employees present in the regions where Braskem operates (Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Europe and Asia) to identify challenges and find opportunities via new solutions, potential customers, and market differentials. Altogether, the program contemplated 117 ideas, involving a total of 215 professionals, which assessed the criteria of value creation (the size of the potential market for the proposed solution and the relevance of the challenge to be solved) and greater alignment with the company’s priorities (adherence with Braskem’s objectives and strategic themes and the opportunity for the company to leverage the solution).
The ten ideas with the greatest potential to become new businesses were selected for mentoring and theoretical training with the Digital Center and Innoscience, a corporate innovation consultancy and Braskem’s partner in this project. Over the course of four weeks, the employees responsible for these ideas developed a business case that was presented to the company’s leadership in a pitch format, seeking resources to develop the solution. Aftterwards, the five best rated ideas were approved and, in the future, will become internal startups. Among the project themes, the one with the highest adhesion was sustainability, with 70% of the bound proposals .
The expectation is to create new sources of revenue, transform market frictions or risks into opportunities, strengthen the company, and increase its competitiveness. In addition, the initiative aimed to solve industry problems by creating solutions to internal challenges, which there is not yet a suitable solution on the market, and empower employees to explore new skills and work methods.
For Ana Paula Lobo, co-author of one of the ten selected ideas and part of the Innovation & Technology team, the opportunity was a transforming experience at all times, from selecting the idea to presenting it to the company’s top leadership. “Living this journey has changed my vision of how to entrepreneurialize an idea, besides allowing me to develop essential skills for those who want to be entrepreneurs, such as believing in the potential of the idea, exercising empathy to understand the pains of the target audience, and having the resilience to adjust the original project, dealing with frustration and being assertive in communication. It was a unique and motivating experience in my career!”, adds Lobo.
Further ratifying the commitment to digital innovation, the Digital Challenge enabled the professional and personal growth of the participants, expanding their business vision, providing an on-the-job experience in new ways of working, and reinforcing the company’s culture in favor of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership, in a democratic and inclusive manner.