Located on the campus of EAFIT University in Medellín, Colombia, the recently opened Argos Innovation Center is a sign of the company’s commitment toward the productive, competitive and sustainable growth of the industry, the region and the country. Through its Innovation Center, Argos hopes to create a meeting place for the challenges of the cement and concrete industry and academic solutions, stimulating the discovery of new uses of the materials. The center is currently hosting R&D, new business development and innovation processes that are tackling industry challenges throughout different regions, including the U.S. and Caribbean where Argos has operations.
“We see innovation as an essential driver to the evolution of our company and the transformation of our industry, which is why we invest in it and reinvent ourselves in order to discover new ways of working, gathering different actors in order to solve the big challenges of this region and the country,” says Cementos Argos CEO Jorge Mario Velásquez. “We expect this joining of knowledge and collaborative work not only to allow us to develop high-impact products and processes, but also to lead to knowledge transfers that can be useful across different industries.”
For his part, EAFIT University Dean Juan Luis Mejía Arango, explains how the building of the Argos Innovation Center implies benefits for all parties involved, both academic and corporate: “We started six years ago with a small 40-sq. m laboratory, which evolved into this new 4,800-sq. m Innovation Center, with an impressive installed capacity. This new project came to life three years ago, when this cement company saw the need to build a large research center, and is today, I believe, the most high-tech laboratory in Colombia. So, we are very satisfied with our relation, as for us, it is part of our mission to welcome private companies into the university.”
The building in itself is a sign of Argos’ commitment to applied research and open innovation, as 63 percent of the concrete used for its construction corresponds to some of the company’s value-added products. Applications of colored, permeable or industrial-grade concrete slabs, plus high-strength or self-consolidating mixes make the Innovation Center a true showcase of the industry’s most important development, but also ensuring it is a green building with environmental advantages.
The Innovation Center is equipped with 12 laboratories and close to 60 work stations. The efficient use of non-renewable resources at the Argos Innovation Center was one of the fundamental principles used for its design and construction, which was undertaken in compliance with LEED parameters. The building takes advantage of natural light and uses technological devices that reduce energy consumption by more than 44 percent; 30 percent of the first-floor surface is green space, reducing the heat island effect in the area. Furthermore, reuse of collected rainwater helps replace more than 70 percent of the Center’s potable water demand.
“The Argos Innovation Center represents a true milestone in the history of our industry and private entrepreneurship, not just because of the investment made in it, but also because of the contribution it will make to developing innovation capacities and because of the cooperation with the academic world. Thanks to its high-tech equipment and materials, we will be able to develop projects together, opening doors to new generations of processes and products that will make it possible to add value to our production chain,” says Velásquez.