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LafargeHolcim taking part in HackZurich

Jan Jenisch

Company participating in Europe’s largest hackathon in bid to accelerate open innovation for sustainable cities

WITH their global open innovation platform LH MAQER, LafargeHolcim are inviting the world’s most talented data and technical minds to reinvent sustainable cities by participating in HackZurich, Europe’s largest hackathon, from 18–20 September 2020.

The company is laying a sustainability challenge to hackathon participants to best support cities as they face the challenge of housing 2 billion more people over the next 25 years. The theme is divided into four focus areas: demolition waste, transportation, plastic waste and biodiversity.


‘I believe in accelerating open innovation to build a world that works for people and the planet,’ said Jan Jenisch (pictured), chief executive officer of LafargeHolcim. ‘Open innovation will play an increasingly important role in the future of our industry as we work with start-up ecosystems to turn our greatest challenges into innovation opportunities.’

According to LafargeHolcim, this participation is just the next step in the company’s broader open innovation journey to reinvent how the world builds, shaping greener and smarter solutions to improve quality of life for all.

More specifically, LH MAQER continuously identifies opportunities for open innovation across the company’s more than 70 markets, working closely with start-ups, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

With its global reach, LH MAQER connects to well-known innovation networks in Paris, San Francisco, Boston and Tel Aviv, as well as to centres of entrepreneurship in the emerging world, including Lagos, Bogota and Mumbai. A major driver of future partnerships is the cleantech ecosystem focusing on sustainable construction.

Since its inception in 2018, LH MAQER has worked with dozens of start-ups to run proof-of-concept initiatives, delivering tangible benefits for all parties. LH MAQER connects innovators directly with leaders across LafargeHolcim’s businesses to pilot and scale up relevant digital initiatives.

Start-ups and building materials experts collaborate to explore new applications of technologies and business models. LafargeHolcim are open to all co-operation models that add value on the ground and do not make equity share a condition for collaboration.

For instance, as part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LafargeHolcim joined the ‘Startups Against Corona’ programme as a founding member. This initiative led to a collaboration with the start-up Leena AI out of Gurgaon, India, which provides artificial intelligence-driven human resource services globally for remote work teams.

Since April 2020, Leena AI’s services have been deployed to identify and best support the needs of over 10,000 LafargeHolcim employees working remotely across India, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Identifying more traditional pain points, LafargeHolcim have also been developing solutions for the procurement of trucking services with the start-up Haulhub, based in Boston. Haulhub demonstrated tangible efficiency gains and savings across local divisions of LafargeHolcim. Supported by their experience working with a global leader, Haulhub successfully closed Series B financing in March 2020 to further scale their business.

By becoming a partner of HackZurich, LafargeHolcim aim to tap into the world’s most innovative minds. The event convenes around 1,000 international participants from a global pool of 5,500 applications, representing several elite universities from more than 85 countries. These tech talents develop highly innovative web, mobile and hardware applications during a 40-hour hackathon in teams of two to four people.

This year’s edition of HackZurich will be a hybrid event, with 300 participants on site in Zurich and 700 taking part virtually.


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