Thijs Vral

System Operations

Becoming a digital TSO is key to a successful energy transition. This transformation is necessary to cope with the increased complexity of the electricity system led by electrification, decentralization and integration of renewables. In parallel digital technologies are bringing many opportunities to improve the quality and the efficiency of our activities.

To accelerate this transition and to promote the innovative initiatives of our employees, Elia Group has decided to create a new dedicated risk-free working environment for fast prototyping of promising projects: The Nest.


Imagine The Nest as a kind of laboratory, with one physical place in Brussels and one in Berlin, open for all employees and subject to a tailor-made and dedicated governance.

In The Nest, our employees are able to work outside their classical work environment and analyze, design, prototype and test their preselected digital innovation ideas in an agile way. They have easy access to all necessary technologies (e.g. AI, IoT), expertise and data.


Rules of the game

This bottom-up approach to innovation offers many opportunities. Of course, rules and governance has been established beforehand with the department in charge of The Nest.

This included defining the process that an idea has to go through – from validation based on prioritization criteria over ideation and prototyping to evaluation of its potential business value as well as tackling the questions of how to balance core business and nest initiatives or how to free-up time within the line function to go in The Nest.

All ideas that have a digital character and induce a change of mindset in the Group can enter The Nest. The hypotheses on which the idea is based should be testable within a short period of time. One standard Nest cycle consists of 12 weeks.

New ways of working

A Nest team has been set up to drive processes and execution, manage risk, and help drive The Nest’s continuous improvement and impact. ​The full team is responsible for helping the idea owners to define their idea more clearly and for staffing the idea team with the necessary resources and skills. This will result in a multi-functional team supported by coaches on e.g. agile and design thinking topics.

In The Nest, the idea team will learn lean and agile ways of working and methodologies that the team members will be able to leverage when they go back to their daily business.


  • Business controlling of the future: Development of a solution that help Business controlling to establish a modern business planning, reporting and analysis tool and improve the user experience in general.
  • Predictive maintenance: innovative solutions to increase the level of monitoring of older asset parts in order to extend their life time in a more controlled way.
  • Dynamic Forecasting and Financial Closing: Development of support for the finance processes in order to detect implausibilities earlier and more accurately.
  • Digital Twin: Developing a solution to test updated settings or firmware for secondary systems, like protection devices, in the cloud rather than on the field.
  • AlgoTrading: Development of a tool to support the traders, unlock market insights using an AI model.
  • Digital self-service: Develop a digital platform for the customers where they can control their data themselves, leading to a paradigm shift in service design of processes.