Interviews - December 9, 2021
Each month we focus in on one member of our Expert Community, a group of independent Experts who play a crucial role in assessing Solutions seeking the Efficient Solution Label. Experts assess Solutions based on five key criteria to ensure they can operate in a sustainable and profitable way.
This month, we are delighted to announce that the Expert of the Month for December is Marc Antoine! Marc joined the Expert Community in December last year, and has assessed over 10 Solutions since joining as an Expert. Marc has real expertise in energy, utilities and business development, providing hugely valuable skills for assessing clean and profitable Solutions.
In this interview with Marc, we hear about his experiences working in sustainability for private companies.
Please tell us a little about yourself! (e.g. where do you live, where are you from, your educational background etc.)
Marc: I am a Swiss and Belgian citizen and have been living in Switzerland for over 35 years now. After finishing my degree in Mechanical Engineering in Brussels (a long time ago!) I lived in the USA for a few years and then came to Switzerland. What was only planned as "a few years" ended up being the rest of my life.
Please tell us more about your area of expertise and profession.
As a young engineer I started in aerospace engineering research (USA). After relocating to Switzerland, I moved to the field of industrial automation. Throughout the years I held different roles and positions and worked in many projects with clients or teams in over 30 countries. My experience is primarily in the areas of engineering, software, automation, optimization, business development, digitalization and project management - across different segments such as energy, water, environment, transportation, infrastructure, and IT. I am solution-oriented and prefer to work in innovative and interdisciplinary teams. And I remain passionate about sustainability and digitalization.
You work for terreActive in product development. What is terreActive all about and how does it relate to sustainability?
terreActive is a company providing cyber security solutions and services to a wide variety of private and public organizations.
The UN defined 17 goals for sustainable development, as a blueprint for achieving peace and prosperity by 2030. The EU established targets dedicated to both sustainable development and cyber security.
Why are cyber security and sustainable development increasingly important issues, worldwide? The three most disruptive challenges the world is facing today, are: energy, transportation, and food. One key aspect which these disruptions have in common is digital transformation processes. Therefore data confidentiality and cyber security can be considered as essential support for sustainable development.
You previously worked for ABB and for tiko Energy Solutions. In your time working in these sectors, how did you see the industry’s approach to sustainability shift?
Industry has integrated sustainability in their business strategy for more than a decade. One of the key driving factors was the business growth derived from technologies that directly address the causes of climate change.
A global enterprise like ABB, for example, generated around 50% of its revenues based on such sustainable technologies a decade ago and increased this by roughly 10% since then. A small company like tiko, for example, addresses the causes of climate change by providing energy-efficiency and -flexibility solutions, integrating renewables into the energy mix, directly at private housing level – for you and me.
Contributions to a more sustainable world come from leading technology such as environmental solutions (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) to resource efficiency (reducing water consumption in stressed areas; reducing waste sent for disposal, using right materials etc.).
But technology is not everything: industrial companies also focus on people and operations by providing solutions for safety (reducing people injuries), responsible sourcing (selecting suppliers), integrity and security.
You’ve been an Expert for over almost a year now, assessing over 10 Solutions! What kinds of Solutions have you assessed, and which stand out as the most impactful?
The variety of Solution proposals and the degree of innovation are very large. The Solutions I assessed so far cover a broad range of applications. It would be difficult and probably unfair to highlight just one solution as being most impactful. Here are a few randomly selected examples:
Renewable synthetic e-fuels as a sustainable and complementary alternative for existing (and future) combustion engines
A car-like, weather protected family and cargo e-bike to shift from car traffic to year-around cycling and transport a few people or small cargo
A system (and IoT platform) to increase water and soil availability for cropland and reforestation (of mangrove forests)
What are your hopes for the Labeled Solutions, and the Solar Impulse Foundation more widely?
For the Labeled Solutions, I wish the inventors pursue their ambitions according to their business plan targets and motivate investors to join them. For the Solar Impulse Foundation, I wish they keep on going!
Anything else you’d like to share?
The pressure on our environment and our society will keep increasing over the coming decades. Estimated 80% of people will live in cities, causing enormous stress on already stretched energy, water, food, and transportation systems. Initiatives like the Solar Impulse Foundation help in addressing these challenges.