“Open Innovation is a major strategic lever for Groupe Renault. In order to explore the future of mobility, we need to join forces to do what we cannot do alone.” Nadine Leclair, Groupe Renault Expert Fellow and sponsor of the CityMakers program
On January 25th, the start-ups and partners of the CityMakers program presented the results of their collaboration, launch nine months earlier. It was an opportunity for Group Renault to honour the projects of 4 start-ups sharing our strategic objectives about the future of mobility including on-board activities, the development of the electric vehicle ecosystem and the use of Big Data to improve road infrastructure. These start-ups and their project are:
Groupe Renault has proven this with the testing of its Symbioz Demo car vehicle because on board of the autonomous vehicle, new uses and activities are possible for passengers. Persistant Studios is working on this topic, they imagined the car as interactive media by rethinking the interaction between the interior of the car and its external environment with the objective to make the journey a time of discovery. They developed and tested different types of experiences and content to be consumed within the car. A very useful test to imagine autonomous vehicles’ services of tomorrow.
This challenge brought together two projects around a common idea: to inform users and institutions about electric vehicles. The first project is focusing on the services provided to potential buyers and users such as: purchase assistance, benefits in traffic or parking. It is not always easy to access this information in a clear, fast and reliable way. Toucan Toco and Groupe Renault have developed a platform helping future buyers to project themselves in their electrical vehicle experience: daily or holiday charging and parking, set up of a terminal, impact on budget, models available on the French market, environmental impact, received ideas, etc. Everything you need to get into the electric world with peace of mind.
Dalberg Data Insights, in charge on the second project, is focusing on infrastructure. They have developed another platform bringing together data from Groupe Renault and the City of Paris on electric vehicles’ uses and load infrastructures. This platform provides a dynamic visualization of behaviours and the impact of electric vehicles in Paris, and makes it possible to relevantly deploy the required infrastructure or incentives to increase the acquisition of electric vehicles.
Road infrastructure maintenance is a central issue for communities: which road should be given priority? How to quickly detect a defect on the road? Responding quickly to these questions is essential to simplify travel and promote safety for everyone. This is the goal pursued by Logiroad. a decision-support software publisher in the field of maintenance and operation of road networks – in partnership with Groupe Renault. How? Thanks to the connection between the Logiroad database with a sensor developed by Groupe Renault which assesses the quality of the road and geolocalizes any defects. A solution that offers local authorities the possibility to access objective information about the state of the road in real time and at a lower cost, thus making road maintenance and traffic more fluid while reducing the maintenance budget.
CityMakers is an open innovation programme devoted to the transition towards more flexible and sustainable forms of urban mobility. What does that mean and what does it illustrate?
Nadine Leclair: Very many things! It means that open innovation is a major strategic lever for Groupe Renault. In order to explore the future of mobility, we need to join forces to do what we cannot do alone. This is a cultural transition: the company's borders must be opened and cooperation must be encouraged with other players in our ecosystem: cities, service providers, insurers and start-ups. This sort of programme allows us to experiment with original ideas, to learn faster and to understand better the issues and challenges stemming from the future of mobility against a background of soaring urbanization.
The programme was only launched in April 2017, but the initial results are already being presented. What were the main stages in CityMakers?
N.L.-: A lot has been done in a short time. In June 2017, just two months after the launch of the programme by NUMA, six priority challenges were pinpointed by the partners and an appeal for applications was made to start-ups. Over 300 replies were received! Thirty were then pre-selected. In September 2017, nine start-ups were chosen to take on the challenges, and the experiments began immediately. For the next three months, innovative mobility ideas were tested in the heart of the city of Paris. As part of the first CityMakers, Groupe Renault worked with four start-ups: Persistant Studios, Toucan Toco, Dalberg Data Insights and Logiroad. In the future, if we wish, we will be able to reinterview the 297 other start-ups to implement other projects or try out other ideas!
How did Groupe Renault work with those four start-ups? What, in your opinion, are the conditions for effective cooperation?
N.L.-: I am convinced that the contributions must be mutual. It is the involvement of everyone and their complementarity are the key to success! Our company took advantage of the agility of the start-ups, which have a different rhythm. They brought us new ways of working, technologies and innovative business models. For our part, we gave them access to professional resources and to vehicles, on which they could base sound experiments and check theories. The teams who worked on the electric vehicle were particularly committed!