Accelerating smart buildings and sustainability

smart buildings and sustainability

Sodexo, in partnership with L Marks, has selected five start-ups to take part in a 10-week programme to road-test their propositions in a bid to find innovative new solutions in the areas of smart buildings and sustainability, as well as employee experience. Julie Ennis, CEO corporate services, Sodexo UK & Ireland takes a look at the finalists

The workplace of today is not just about the physical boundaries of an office but also the employee experience wherever and whenever teams are working.

With hybrid working now a reality for many organisations, a connected, people-centric approach is needed. Building out from traditional iFM and food services, our Vital Spaces approach offers a wide range of solutions focused on optimising spaces, harnessing agility and putting the employee at the heart of the environment.

We frame this under five service pillars:

Workplace strategy: A data-driven, outcome-focused approach to workspace including change management, including partnerships with experts such as Wx. Smart building strategy with consideration to the environment, sustainability and energy.

Workplace design: Supporting the creation of productive and inspiring spaces – where people can be their best. We can deliver this through our partnership with TSK, as shown in the total redesign of our own HQ in London.

Workplace management: Seamlessly managing safe, compliant and sustainable places where people can focus on the task at hand.

Work-life services: Including food at work, food delivery, employee and guest services, as well as work-from-home services, all supporting life for people at work, helping them thrive.

Workplace tech & analytics: Data-driven solutions helping organisations make faster, smarter decisions in areas such as space utilisation, energy reporting, health, wellbeing and environmental analysis.

Vital Spaces has brought together the diverse expertise we have within our business to provide a new approach for workplaces, bringing together everything we can do to support adults at work whether in the office, at home or at a third workspace.

However, it is critical that as an organisation we are agile and continually seek new, innovative and forward-thinking solutions, powered by the latest technology.

We have a track record of partnering with small and medium enterprises to achieve that aim and at the end of 2021 it was confirmed that the UK and Ireland would be the next region for Sodexo’s Accelerators global innovation programme.

The aim of the programme is to drive innovations in technology that improve the workplace experience, aligning with our vast portfolio of expertise on workspace and work-life services under our Vital Spaces approach.

To launch the programme, we joined forces with L Marks, an innovation specialist with experience of running over 70 programmes with some of the world’s leading organisations.

Areas of focus: Smart buildings and sustainability

The first step was to identify areas of focus and with the help of L Marks, we settled on smart buildings, employee experience and sustainability.

Through its extensive global network and rigorous scouting methods, L Marks was able to uncover the most promising early and growth stage companies that are operating in food services and facilities management.

We were delighted with the volume and quality of applicants, with over 400 start-ups applying for the programme. Through deliberations with senior teams, 21 were then invited to pitch their business propositions to us. We held two live pitch events, one in London and one in Dublin.

The start-ups pitched their innovations either virtually or in-person to an audience of our senior leaders, operational teams as well as some of our subject matter experts in areas such as sustainability, employee engagement, marketing, supply chain as well as market consultants.

An important element of the programme is to find solutions that are relevant to our operations, which is why we decided to livestream the two pitch days to enable our colleagues from across our business to view the pitches and to have a say on which went through to the next stage using an app-based voting platform.

The chosen five finalists are:

Asseticom: A pioneering digital solution that advances asset data collection and building surveying.

Hark Systems: A technology company specialising in helping enterprises to improve efficiency and reduce waste by providing visibility and automatic control over assets such as energy meters, building management systems and industrial systems.

Advanced Bacterial Sciences (ABS): Developing next-generation bacterial treatments for waste and water management, pollution remediation and agriculture that boost efficiency, cut maintenance and running costs and regenerate natural systems.

Wayleadr: Reimagining the last mile of commuter journeys by connecting smart buildings with smart vehicles, saving time, rightsizing real estate spend and curbing carbon emissions.

Infogrid: The AI Building Intelligence Platform makes buildings healthier for occupants, more efficient for managers to operate and more sustainable for the planet.

The five finalists will each have a mentor and will be supported by Sodexo’s subject matter experts on a 10-week programme, which will enable them to test, refine and adapt their business propositions in a live operational environmental and in line with our Vital Spaces workplace proposition.

At Sodexo, we believe deeply in doing good business in a good way. That’s why we leverage our expertise to not only optimise the efficiency of our clients’ businesses but to have a powerful, positive impact on the communities we serve.

Sodexo is a global company, but we understand the importance of working locally, with entrepreneurs who know and understand their consumers. That’s why Accelerators was created.

The Accelerators innovation programme has already successfully launched in China, Brazil, India, France and Sweden, helping us to strengthen our ties with the start-up ecosystem. It is a key force for Sodexo to increase our agility and have a finger on the pulse of the latest trends and disruptions in the service industry.


Julie Ennis

CEO corporate services

Sodexo UK & Ireland






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