Procter & Gamble and Workero deliver a ground-breaking initiative to speed up innovation through co-creation and co-location

For the first time in its company’s history, Procter & Gamble has decided to open up one of its locations to a third party in collaboration with Workero.

Discover the location in the video below.

In the L-building, part of P&G’s Brussels headquarters, the ground floor has been completely renovated and transformed into a co-working space with open desks and private offices.

In doing so, P&G is piloting an initiative to develop a fast-moving consumer goods incubator, the ‘InQbet campus’, to create an ecosystem of corporates and startups whilst co-locating with partners to fast-track innovation and generate new ideas.

Evolution of P&G’s innovation

P&G has supported open innovation since 2001, when it launched an initiative titled ‘Connect + Develop’, as a strategic pillar of its innovation program. A number of the company’s most successful products today originated from external connections with partners in the fabric and home care sector.

Olivier Houpert, Director of P&G Research & Development and the Brussels Innovation Centre Site leader explains how the opening up of its location in Brussels plays a role in P&G’s efforts to fast-track innovation:

“We are looking to move this to the next level with a focus on co-location and partnerships with existing strategic suppliers, new startups and scale-ups that can accelerate our innovation.

“To this end, we are opening up our campus here in Brussels together with Workero for the benefit of faster innovation. The ‘InQbet campus’ is an initiative to open up our R&D facilities and enable co-location for the purpose of driving more connections, ideas and innovation.”

He adds: “It combines flexible office space rental, through Workero, with access to some state-of-the-art R&D facilities like our consumer lounge, prototyping facilities and pilot plant so we can ideate, make and sell products faster, together with our partners, with a vision for an idea to market in just one week.”

These facilities, supported by funding from the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRO) to strengthen open innovation, include a state-of-the-art prototyping unit, which can leverage from one to several thousand prototypes.

Additionally, the site includes an innovative Consumer lounge, in which P&G and its innovation partners can transport consumers into a real home environment for experiential learning.

Serge Cauwberghs, Associate Director of P&G R&D and B.I.C. Site Operations Manager, says: “With the help of EFRO funding, we have just opened a state-of-the-art prototyping unit which can make 1 to 5000+ prototypes, leveraging the best prototyping capabilities on offer.

These facilities are open to partners to bring to life their ideas and can be scaled up to manufacture enough to sell. So partners can ideate with consumers, design prototypes, and make enough to sell leveraging the capabilities on the campus which make up our idea to launch the concept.”

Special Interest Innovation

Stuart Askew, Associate Director of P&G R&D and B.I.C. External Innovation leader, explains on which levels this campus works: “The Brussels site is a unique site for P&G with a focus on Fabric and Home care innovation.

It’s an ‘End to End’ Site, meaning at one end, we innovate on new global platforms, focusing on new products, packages, engineering processes and services, and at the other end we serve the Benelux markets and beyond via commercialisation of those products and services. This gives us a unique opportunity to test new ideas along the full product life cycle from an idea to launch, and pilot new opportunities.

Within this framework, P&G has a special interest to connect the open innovation to its site vision and special areas of interest.

For example: Sustainability, where open innovation is necessary to create a truly circular economy and progress its brand 2030 ambitions; Industry 4.0, or digital transformation technologies, where starups and scale-ups can help P&G in particular, and which can benefit R&D, Engineering and Commercial needs on the site.

A space to support innovation: Workero

Serge Cauwberghs highlights that the location has been transformed to fit within this framework: “With Workero, we have designed a very flexible office rental approach from private offices to open space seats.

“In the Workero space, partners can rent space by the hour, day, month or year. For other partners who prefer a more permanent, long-term private office, there is this facility through the Interoffices concept, which we also have on site in the same building.

“Partners working with P&G or other corporates, who are part of the campus, can leverage these facilities as they need and benefit from the safe office space and the excellent facilities provided by Workero and P&G.

We are looking forward to accommodating our research partners in these new facilities and value the flexible and unique service Workero is offering us.

Dirk Paelinck, Workero’s CEO, highlights why this partnership is unique: “By integrating Workero into this HQ site with R&D facilities, P&G is taking open innovation to the next level.

This co-location and the sustaining of partnerships with existing strategic suppliers, new startups and scale-ups will further accelerate innovation processes. Partners working with P&G or other corporates who are part of the network will be able to use the Workero space and benefit from the safe workspace and the facilities provided on site. For P&G, this model creates two benefits: first of all, it will amplify and accelerate its innovation projects. Second, P&G will make revenue on underused office spaces. That is precisely the value proposition of Workero: let companies monetise underused workspace and provide access to a circle of innovation between corporates, startups and partners.