Our Silicon Valley satellite
We have established a watch group in California’s Silicon Valley since 2011.
This eminent hub of global innovation is tasked with drawing on the region’s expertise and opportunities in three areas: electric vehicles and their ecosystem, onboard well-being, and new services.
The first innovation projects emerging from this satellite will nurture and enrich Renault’s innovation agenda throughout the years to come. This watch group closely monitors technological trends with local experts such as Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, research centers and a number of companies, including Google and Intel.
Cooperative Innovation Laboratory, a start-up within the company
The Cooperative Innovation Laboratory (LCI) is staffed by people from three departments: Product, Design and Engineering.
LCI’s remit is to create concepts that make a clean break with current technology and uses and then devise demonstrators to highlight the soundness of the concepts and the value they create for our clients.
The common thread running through LCI’s work is a focus on understanding new trends in society and anticipating customers’ future expectations.
LCI’s work encompasses long- and short-term vehicle projects on components and platforms. Besides making specific contributions to future models, the goal is to add one project a year to the future vehicles plan.
To cite but one product, the electric quadricyle Twizy, launched in 2011, was the brainchild of the LCI.
Spurring creativity with the Renault Creative People community
Renault Creative People is an internal creativity initiative dedicated to innovation that allows all Renault Group staff – wherever they are in the world – to put forward ideas for innovations, work through them and play an active role in their implementation. Renault Creative People has launched more than 10 calls for ideas since it was set up in 2011, receiving over 1,000 ideas from Renault employees.
The best ideas are placed in incubators, where volunteer members of the community can then pursue them further. Ten or so are being explored at the present time, on subjects as diverse as the self-driving vehicle, the modular vehicle, the €2,000 vehicle, and vehicles that help construct trip routes.
Lomig Unger, head of the Creative People community, tells us more:
> How did the Renault Creative People community come about, and why was it created?
The work of Renault Creative People supplements the strategic tracking done by our Creativity & Innovation Promotion team. The calls for ideas give all employees, regardless of their job, the opportunity to contribute to the creativity and innovation effort. The community was tiny at the start but now has over 1,000 members. The Creative People Lab is the place where rapid prototyping, workshops and brainstorming sessions happen.
> How do you tell good and bad ideas apart? What criteria do you use?
There are two ways of sorting the ideas.
The first, the conventional approach, is to spot the nuggets, the relatively feasible paths of innovation. We are on the lookout for those. We try as much as possible to have our experts and project managers come and judge for themselves whether the ideas are relevant and really original.
The second approach, which is more disruptive in nature, consists in using original or offbeat ideas as well as groups of ideas to explore and look for new knowledge, new concepts and new paths of innovation.
> Have Creative People ideas already been fitted on certain models?
No – but they will be soon! A smartphone app available at the App Store came out of a Creative People incubator, and several ideas have been worked on intensively to meet intermediate objectives faster. These ideas are shared with the business divisions and the innovation projects. It is our job to make them attractive and relevant so that they can one day be used on our vehicles. But that’s not the only objective. Another aim of our community is to provoke ideas, encourage creativity and develop the company’s culture. It’s all about being open and having a playful and inquiring mind – in short, bringing creativity to innovation.
> In your view, as the orchestrator of this approach to creativity at Renault, what might the car of the future look like?
We are in the process of setting up a forecasting process based on somewhat far-fetched scenarios. Forecasting is one of the tools of open innovation. These scenarios will be worked up in very graphic form and combined with more comprehensive tracking data to start working in depth on defined paths of research.
> Do you already have an example of a far-fetched scenario that Creative People will be thinking about?
Nothing has been defined yet, but one might be: “Suppose that in 2044, Renault only manufactured robots.” Our aim is to make sustainable mobility accessible to everyone, so we could imagine designing “mobility assistance” robots, or exoskeletons, or android mobility companions. Nobody knows the future, so let’s have fun inventing it!