Leonard, Imagining tomorrow’s VINCI
22 November 2017 - Other - France
A foresight and technology watch hub; an incubator and accelerator for new products and services invented by VINCI intrapreneurs and startups; a central Paris venue for innovation that is open to all VINCI staff – Leonard is all these things. Both the approach and the new building are firmly focused on a world in transformation, determined to imagine today VINCI’s activities tomorrow. Every innovative entrepreneur is welcome at Leonard.
The choice of name is no accident. VINCI decided to name its new innovation hothouse in honour of the unbridled creativity and intellectual freedom of the great Leonardo da Vinci, master inventor, artist and humanist. Its mission is to invent future activities for all VINCI’s business lines. Why approach this issue collectively? Because the problems facing the Group’s various business units as they reflect on changes in their markets and business models are increasingly Group-wide, shared by all. Take as an example connected mobility and tommorow’s driverless vehicles. This impacts Eurovia and VINCI Construction, which build the infrastructure, VINCI Energies, which equips the infrastructure with information systems and multiple networks, and VINCI Autoroutes and VINCI Highways, which manage it and develop new mobility services for users. Engineering structures and uses, technologies and services: each of these aspects will become increasingly interdependent, and this impacts our customers too as they search for comprehensive solutions.
LEONARD IS DESIGNED TO FILL A THREE-WAY MISSION centring on Group-wide issues like these. The first is to act as a technology watch hub, pinpointing emerging new trends in VINCI’s activities and markets and spotting telltale weak signals as early as possible. As part of this approach, Leonard works with experts from multiple disciplines — sociologists, architects, philosophers and the like — to bring together engineering sciences, which are a core part of VINCI’s DNA, with human sciences. This combination is key to achieving insights into revolutionary new uses and mutations in a world experiencing profound transformation. The focus on technology watch is already clear in Leonard’s Twitter feed and website, as well as via research that will be reserved at first for exclusive use by VINCI staff.
TECHNOLOGY WATCH FEEDS DIRECTLY INTO LEONARD'S SECOND MISSION, which more directly concerns one of VINCI’s key strengths: foresight. Leonard already hosts regular foresight sessions for groups tasked with examining Group-wide themes (see box). Each group, headed by a member of the Executive Committee, brings together people from all Group business lines, making sure that every age and profile is represented. Their role is to pinpoint challenges, opportunities for change, and growth drivers for VINCI over the coming five to 10 years that may open the way to building new offers and services.
THE THIRD MISSION is more overtly operational in focus, using the in-house incubator to move from researching issues to accelerating projects. Leonard sets out to identify and create relationships with startups that offer value creation potential in fields that overlap VINCI’s areas of activity. Identifying and nurturing promising projects is also the aim of the Intrapreneurs programme, which encourages staff members to become in-house innovation entrepreneurs. The only condition is that the product or service they want to promote has a Group-wide dimension that could impact several VINCI business activities. The first call for My VINCI Startup proposals launched in June. In the space of a month, staff from many different VINCI business lines and locations submitted a total of 83 projects via the Leonard website. The 20-strong jury from VINCI and its partner entities, such as Impulse Partners, Numa and EM Lyon Business School, selected 11 finalists with projects in such diverse fields as participative infrastructure financing, data for urban resilience, shared living, predictive maintenance, and augmented reality to boost efficiency at worksites.
JUST LIKE AN INCUBATOR supporting external startups, VINCI intrapreneurs benefit from a comprehensive support programme at Leonard. During the first four-month phase they can devote 20% of their working time to their project. Leonard provides bespoke support to help them to transform their idea into a project, working closely with their home business unit. Next comes Rush Week. The first will take place in November, where they have a chance to talk to experts and investors about their innovation. This is also an ideal opportunity to practice pitching, the art of convincing an audience of your project’s worth in a few minutes. In January 2018 a new selection committee will pick the projects to go through to the next phase, the accelerator. The chosen intrapreneurs will then be free to work on their project full time for four months and their business units will receive financial compensation for their temporary absence. The aim of this deep-dive into Leonard’s ecosystem is to fine-tune and prototype innovation projects, with the goal of launching a new business, new component in our offerings, or a new service that benefits VINCI’s internal operations. Preparations are in hand right now for the second season of My VINCI Startup even as the first season is under way: the call for projects has been running since the summer and the selection panel will meet in December before the new season launches in February 2018.
VINCI'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DECIDED TO ALLOCATE A BUILDING TO THE LEONARD PROCESS. They wanted a space that will become a shared hub and platform for all the Group’s innovators. This Paris venue will open its doors before the end of the year. Open and light-filled thanks to the large glass rooflight inherited from its 20th century industrial background, this 1,200-square-metre building will do more than just host work groups and the Leonard project accelerator programme. It will be open widely to all VINCI staff members, serving as the location for events and meetings that will resonate throughout the Group. It will also be a platform for exchanges and meetings with urban and infrastructure innovators, and with the wider innovation ecosystem. Better still, as well as the small Leonard team, the building will be home to other VINCI entities focused on innovation and society: La Fabrique de la Cité, the VINCI-Paris Tech Chair in Eco-Design of Buildings and Infrastructure, and the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité.