LafargeHolcim joins HackZurich to accelerate open innovation for sustainable cities

  • Open innovation platform LH MAQER is a central pillar of how the company is reinventing its industry to build a world that works for people and the planet
  • Partner of HackZurich, Europe’s largest hackathon, taking place September 18-20
  • Sustainable city challenge to rethink demolition waste, transportation, plastic waste and biodiversity


With its global open innovation platform LH MAQER, LafargeHolcim is inviting the world’s most talented data and technical minds to reinvent sustainable cities by participating in HackZurich, Europe's largest hackathon, on September 18-20, 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,” says Jan Jenisch, CEO LafargeHolcim.”Open innovation will play an increasingly important role in the future of our industry as we work with startup ecosystems to turn our greatest challenges into innovation opportunities.”

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 startups, 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 centers 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.

Tangible benefits for LafargeHolcim and startups

Since its inception in 2018, LH MAQER has worked with dozens of startups 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. Startups and building materials experts collaborate to explore new applications of technologies and business models. LafargeHolcim is open to all cooperation models that add value on the ground and does not make equity share as a condition for collaboration.  

For instance, as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LafargeHolcim joined the “Startups Against Corona” program as a founding member. This initiative led to a collaboration with the startup 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 has also been developing solutions for the procurement of trucking services with the startup Haulhub, based in Boston. Haulhub demonstrated tangible efficiency gains and savings across local divisions of LafargeHolcim. Supported by its experience working with a global leader, Haulhub successfully closed Series B financing in March 2020 to further scale its business.  

By becoming a partner of HackZurich, LafargeHolcim aims to tap into the world's most innovative minds. The event convenes -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-hours hackathon in teams of two to four people.  

About LafargeHolcim 
LafargeHolcim is the global leader in building materials and solutions and active in four business segments: Cement, Aggregates, Ready-Mix Concrete and Solutions & Products. Its ambition is to lead the industry in reducing carbon emissions and shifting towards low-carbon construction. With the strongest R&D organization in the industry, the company seeks to constantly introduce and promote high-quality and sustainable building materials and solutions to its customers worldwide - whether individual homebuilders or developers of major infrastructure projects. LafargeHolcim employs over 70,000 employees in over 70 countries and has a portfolio that is equally balanced between developing and mature markets.  

LH MAQER is the global innovation platform driving change through open innovation in the building materials sector. It focuses on connecting technology companies to actual use cases in the entire LafargeHolcim footprint, from quarry to construction site. Inspired by open innovation movements in software development, LH MAQER opens up the entire footprint of LafargeHolcim step by step to new formats of innovation. This includes quarries, manufacturing sites, logistics networks, and sales organizations, as well as the many partnerships LafargeHolcim has throughout the value chain, from waste co-processing to construction sites. We are convinced that sustainable and efficient manufacturing and construction will only be achievable by leveraging new ways of working and innovation.  

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