Hermes, the new VINCI Energies innovation platform

How can we disseminate innovation in-house? VINCI Energies looked for a way to do it. The result: Hermes.

The project got under way in the summer of 2016. At the end of a long co-development process by the VINCI Energies innovation community, Hermes was launched in March 2018. The new platform contains all innovation projects carried out by the group and their proofs of concept (POC), as well as the startups that the various business activities deem most interesting, with feedback for each.

“To jointly build the platform, we decided to apply design thinking principles,” says VINCI Energies Open Innovation & Collective Intelligence manager Julien Guillaume.

Following an in-depth benchmarking study of available solutions, a small preparatory working group began the project aimed at iteratively designing the platform’s Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in the spring of 2017. A few months later, an operational first version of the platform was designed with support from startup Yoomap. This marked the start of an eight-month “test & learn” period, which produced four successive versions of the platform.

Crawling engine

“The feedback loop, based on individual user interviews and online questionnaires returned by users with restricted access to the project, enabled us to validate the concept as a whole and to limit all of the obstacles to use by simplifying the action to be taken by users,” says Julien Guillaume.

“Test & learn enabled us to validate the entire concept and to limit obstacles to use.”

This was notably made possible by a crawling (indexing) engine that pre-enters and constantly updates the public data collected on the Internet for each startup, an optimised classification system with keywords, and a search and recommendation engine.

“By the end of the testing period, in February 2018, 92% of users said the platform was useful or very useful,” says Julien Guillaume. Since Hermes officially went live, the results have been encouraging: more than one-quarter of the target users (directors, business unit managers, as well as project managers and other managers in contact with startups) were using the platform after 3 months. By early April, about 50 “made in VINCI Energies” projects and more than 200 startups had already been included by Hermes.

La Factory propagates

La Factory, a physical venue opened in November 2016 in La Défense, is a co-creation, testing, learning exploration, and demonstration space that welcomes more than 1,500 visitors per month in addition to the more than 100 VINCI Energies employees who work there full-time. Building on this success, a German Factory, the “Digitalschmiede”, opened in Frankfurt on 7 April 2018. “In the showroom, Digitalschmiede presents the latest digital Smart Industry, Smart Energy, Smart Building, and Smart City prototypes. We also offer a methodology that ranges from brainstorming to validation to bring an idea to a viable prototype within 30 days,” says Bernhard Kirchmair, Chief Digital Officer at VINCI Energies Deutschland.