Creating new opportunities for Group companies
Stimulating innovation is an integral part of VINCI’s strategy and accelerates the transformation of its business activities, products and services. In addition to the multi-business initiatives driving innovation at Group level, which include Leonard, lab recherche environnement and La Fabrique de la Cité, each business line houses a platform to infuse innovation in its sphere of activity, such as La Factory (Paris) at VINCI Energies, the tech startup Cyclope.ai at VINCI Autoroutes, the network of innovation centres of excellence at VINCI Concessions, and Eurovia’s international research centre in Bordeaux.
To imagine VINCI tomorrow
To adapt to today's many challenges– energy transition, digital revolution, much shorter innovation cycles – VINCI has set up Leonard, a Group-wide market intelligence and foresight structure.
Leonard, the Group’s innovation and foresight platform, has continued to support entrepreneurial innovation. The Intrapreneurs track welcomed nine new projects imagined by VINCI employees, while incubated projects from previous cohorts continued their development in the Group. Twelve of these have already evolved into new business activities or operating entities, such as Waste Marketplace, a digital solution for worksite waste management, and e>béton, a platform for the distribution of low-carbon concrete in the Exegy range. An artificial intelligence track was inaugurated in 2020, generating six AI applications for the Group’s businesses, in addition to AI training courses for employees.
Leonard’s teams organised a number of events during France’s first lockdown due to the health crisis, including a series of daily virtual conferences. In September, the Building Beyond festival assembled some 100 speakers and more than 2,500 participants online and at Leonard:Paris. Internationally, Leonard expanded its activities in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), assisted by the German subsidiaries of Eurovia and VINCI Energies.
Leonard regularly brings together prospective groups whose task is to identify long-term challenges for VINCI, opportunities for change in the Group's business activities and organisation, and new sources of growth.
Leonard also supported five early stage startups in the Seed track, helping them to adjust their business plans to market realities. The 11 growth-stage ventures in the Catalyst track partnered with Group companies to expand their products and services. These programmes are turning Leonard into the foremost incubator, for both startups and investors, in VINCI’s sphere of businesses. Leonard also produces foresight studies, integrating the input of Group companies to help build projects with real-world applications. For example, Leonard’s work on autonomous, connected electric vehicles led to Eurovia’s participation in the testing of a selfdriving shuttle in rural areas. This coordinated approach has been validated by France’s national strategy for autonomous mobility, which recognises the need for cooperation between autonomous vehicles and road infrastructure. Leonard also joined forces with Shell and the OECD to develop three scenarios, to which about 30 experts have contributed, for achieving carbon neutrality for the city of Paris by 2050.
Inventing today the city of tomorrow
A think tank created by VINCI, continued to monitor, explore and research various urban foresight issues. In 2020, it published three reports – on the democratic challenges faced by large projects, on funding mobility in a post-carbon world and on health issues specific to urban spaces. For its Across Cities in Crisis series, La Fabrique has produced a stream of original content analysing the many repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on urban spaces. The think tank also hosted its first event exploring medium-sized cities and partnered with the literary journal Lire Magazine to launch a short story competition with the same theme, which attracted 750 submissions. All these initiatives were widely echoed in the media and have helped to inform current debate on urban issues.
A research partnership for a more sustainable city
Emerged in 2008 from a partnership between VINCI and three ParisTech schools (Mines, École des Ponts and Agro), supported 10 doctoral and post-doctoral research projects in its four areas of expertise: nature in urban environments, neighbourhood life-cycle analysis, the energy performance of buildings and urban mobility. Along with these science sponsorship initiatives, lab recherche environnement creates gateways between research and industry. One way this is accomplished is by undertaking in-depth work to further develop the Group’s in-house innovations, such as that contributing to Power Road®, Eurovia’s thermal energy-generating road technology. Another way it connects research and industry is by forming “mirror groups” of VINCI employees, who work alongside researchers to identify demonstrators and implement them in the Group’s projects. Lab-to-market workshops, like the one on urban agriculture, help detect new business opportunities arising from the research carried out in the various industries. Additionally, lab recherche environnement conducted two new studies on the environmental impact of transport infrastructure and services in Les Lumières Pleyel, a testing ground for the three ParisTech schools. The neighbourhood is located in Saint-Denis in the Greater Paris area, where the Group’s companies have a strong presence. To disseminate its research findings, it ran a cycle of conferences reaching a total of 1,600 participants over the year and released its first publication, a guide to planting city roof gardens (Agriculture urbaine – comment aménager une toiture-terrasse), in tandem with the publishing house Éditions Eyrolles.
The Ecowork initiative was developed, in partnership with CommonsSense, to foster and accelerate dissemination of the chair's works. Ecowork is a community of researchers and professionals who share the same commitment to the sustainable city and who attend creative workshops to generate innovative and concrete ideas around the challenges of eco-design.