Embracing Employee-Driven Research and Discovery with SGH Innovation

Posted by Niklas Vigener and James Parker on October 3, 2018
Nik Vigener SGH Innovation Mehdi Zarghamee Andrew Sarawit

At Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, we weave learning into our everyday practice. It is a culture that pervades everything we do. We celebrate this spirit to improve and advance with our SGH Innovation program, which funds employee-led research projects that help us understand our work today and push us forward for tomorrow. 

Why Do We Innovate? 

Innovation is not new to SGH. It has always been an important part of how we approach our work – from our early days pioneering building technology to current efforts in advanced computational design. But innovation does look different here. We do not invent gadgets or disrupt markets. We move our industry forward with new processes and materials to make buildings safer, more efficient, more durable, and more reliable. 

Through SGH Innovation, we commit to ongoing research efforts that take months and years to show results and recognize that new ideas come from every area of the firm and all levels of our staff, from the most seasoned expert to the newest employee.

How Does It Work? 

Every other year, we put out a call for proposals seeking research ideas that help us innovate, differentiate, and collaborate. Teams of employees present their proposals to a panel of expert judges in front of an audience of their peers, and the best ideas receive a grant from the firm to fund their research. Teams and their mentors set out to test and discover, and share their results with the firm throughout the following year. 

We are curious people, eager to innovate and solve problems. When we put out a call for proposals at the end of 2017, we received more than 100 new and creative ideas from our team members. Twenty-five of those proposals moved on to judging, and fifteen received funding and are currently underway. This is in addition to the dozens of completed and ongoing SGH Innovation projects from prior years, bringing the firm’s total funding commitment for this program to more than $500,000. These employee-driven research projects help inform and complement the firm’s ongoing strategic initiatives to support discovery and innovation at SGH. 

What’s Next?

This is how we build expertise – by combining real science with boots-on-the-ground fieldwork to gain experience, obtain new knowledge, and explore new ideas. We are eager to see where these projects will take us and proud to share our results. 

Please visit the new SGH Innovation section on sgh.com to see what we’ve been up to and follow along with our research teams.

Categories: Culture, Industry