Kongsberg Digital’s Partnership Innovation Journey: Interview with our In-House Expert

Kongsberg Digital’s Partnership Innovation Journey: Interview with our In-House Expert

June 26, 2024
Time to read: 8 minutes
Kongsberg Digital

Meet Edda Abelvik-Engmark, Kongsberg Digital’s Director of Partnership Innovation. Based in Amsterdam, Edda leads the company’s innovation work from Shell’s Energy Transition Campus Amsterdam (ETCA). We caught up with Edda to learn more about Kongsberg Digital’s journey at ETCA and how key learnings from the experience are contributing to more constructive collaboration with Shell and other member companies on campus.

What is the ETCA?  

Created by Shell, ETCA is an open campus in the center of Amsterdam where innovative companies come together to find solutions to the world’s biggest energy challenges.

Shell facilitates the eco system by providing a passionate ETCA team, space and platform for collaboration projects. All under the same roof of the ETCA, you’ll find offices and laboratories designed to scale technologies. Since opening the campus in 2022, a mixture of innovative companies, societal organisations, governments and universities have found each other here. Members have access to a safe testing ground for innovation and an international network full of expertise and experience.  

Kongsberg Digital is one of the founding members of the ETCA initiative and forms part of the digital cluster on campus.

Edda and the first rotation of the Kongsberg Digital ETCA team (2022/2023) at the Energy Transition Campus Amsterdam. From left to right: Edda Abelvik-Engmark, Zeenath Ara, Pranesh Kuman, Kraven D’Lima, Brian Carey (ex-Kongsberg Digital)

Edda, please tell us about Kongsberg Digital’s journey at ETCA so far.

We have been a member since day one, and it’s been inspiring to be here in Amsterdam and have shared learnings with other companies, some of which are also our customers. It’s a new experience to be in an environment where competition and collaboration have to co-exist, and a first for the industry. We are really trying to achieve a shared purpose in a high-trust environment.

What a journey! Two years in, can you reflect on the top key learnings that you’ve had during your time on campus?

When it comes to establishing successful open partnerships, the following stood out to me:

Firstly, it’s important for any project – no matter how big or how small – to define strategic objectives. Start by asking what the outcome should be. While Shell was very good at this, Kongsberg Digital took an approach of rapid ideation. While exciting, a defined project scope helps narrow down priorities and increases the chances of creating a valuable project within the partner landscape.  

Then, make sure to identify collaboration partners that align on the problem being solved. We need to focus on changing our mindsets to collaborating for increased value. We also need to find the balance between owning projects and sharing them, which is difficult considering the industry is used to operating independently. Co-innovation requires us to be honest about what our contribution and value add should be, where to bring in partners when we are less experienced and how to avoid solving everything in isolation. Companies usually attempt to solve industry problems in-house instead of focusing on the value that they can contribute to collaborative efforts.

Edda in discussion with fellow ETCA members at the Shell stand during Web Summit Lisbon 2023

Another thing: Many people refer to ideas and projects as intellectual property (IP) when they are not actually IP. Disclaimer, I’m not an IP lawyer – but from a collaboration and innovation standpoint, this is an obstacle we see all the time. Say we want to explore a new solution for emissions monitoring in a digital twin. Often, people – and companies – are scared to reveal too much and come to the table with a tactical mindset, but actually they can share a lot more than they think without crossing those borders. A willingness to be open and collaborative fosters more openness and collaboration. When we step forward and welcome others to co-innovate in safe spaces like ETCA, we see that other companies want to work with us.  

Lastly, I want to emphasise the value of open initiatives like the ETCA and the role they play in facilitating knowledge exchange and sharing. The campus brings together some of the industry’s brightest minds and most innovative companies, offering resources like laboratories and offices to encourage joint projects from the innovation stage through to early testing, iteration, and eventual scale. This openness is unheard of in the industry and sets an example for the type of mindset that companies need to adopt for us to achieve the energy transition.

Teams from Shell, C3 AI, Databricks and Kongsberg Digital at the ETCA opening event in June 2022

Fantastic reflections and an important reminder of the opportunities available to the energy industry. To end with, could you share some examples of partnership innovations where ETCA members can get involved?

It’s difficult to identify the problems you face every day as an operator – and even harder to find the best solutions to these problems. If you ask an operator at a refinery what they need, they will probably just want to work the exact same way but on a tablet.

As a technology company with domain and technical expertise, our role should be understanding the real problems that affect operations and focusing on how our solutions can transform the way things work today beyond just digitalising information that’s distributed in documents and drawings.  

There are three areas where we see potential for innovation at a partner level:

  1. Innovative work: New ways of working with daily tasks and workflows. Examples include remote operations, energy nomination and asset reliability.
  2. Innovative technology: This focuses on derisking, verifying and testing new technology like generative AI, robotics integration, machine vision and real-wear devices.
  3. Innovative business: Zooming in on new business areas and industry-wide applications like offshore wind and emissions management.

Since joining the ETCA campus, we have focused mostly on the energy side within our membership, but we hope to develop our partnerships in all three areas to other industries like maritime and utilities, where Kongsberg Digital also offers digital solutions to help companies improve energy efficiency.

The ETCA Campus in Amsterdam

Edda, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us today. Could you please leave the audience with a final takeaway?

ETCA is a place where we can talk, share and innovate with our customers and partners. We look forward to more innovation, more collaboration and greater impact within the industry as we tackle the world’s biggest energy challenges together.

About the author

Kongsberg Digital’s Partnership Innovation Journey: Interview with our In-House Expert

Kongsberg Digital

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