The atmosphere was lively and electric at Leonard this morning. After four intense weeks of preparation, 17 aspiring intrapreneurs were getting ready to present their ideas for new businesses to the VINCI Group intrapreneur program selection committee. The committee, led by Philippe Dewost, is made up of directors from different Group companies and external entrepreneurs. The hopeful intrapreneurs had been preselected from 70 applicants.
Today, they each have 10 minutes to convince the selection committee. First there is a five‑minute pitch based on a presentation, then a five-minute question and answer session with the members of the committee. The selection criteria include the potential of the business, its capacity for cross‑Group operation within VINCI and the entrepreneurial profile of the project leader or team behind it.
The aim is to integrate the incubation process, enabling the project leader to check the feasibility of their project, meet potential clients and find their place in the set‑up of the Group and design a Proof of Concept (PoC). Leonard provides them with bespoke support to make this happen. Every project leader with a project in incubation will be able to dedicate 20% of their working time to it. They will be accompanied by a coach and have access to VINCI Group internal resources and, potentially, the expertise of 195,000 employees all over the world!
A variety of intrapreneur profiles
The intrapreneur profiles are extremely varied this year. This was highlighted by Didier Deschanel, Director of Innovation at Eurovia and a member of the committee: “The first two years of the program mostly attracted people whose careers are already advanced, who have been working on their projects for years. Leonard finally made it possible for those projects to be put into action. This year’s program, however, is made up of diverse profiles in terms of age and the maturity of their projects.”
The candidates all come from different Group entities, and even different countries — smoothly switching between French and English. Lance, originally from New Zealand, is on an exchange in VINCI Construction Terrassement for one year; Dominic is from Sixense in London; André, originally from Brazil, works for VINCI Construction Hydraulique in Nantes; and Mathieu is based in Lyon.
Diverse entities, then, but also roles. For the first time, two construction workers have put forward ideas — one of which was presented at today’s event. While working on site, Moussa Conte had an epiphany. Visiting his home country of Guinea, he identified an opportunity to resell equipment there. Nicolas Jover, branch manager of a Eurovia subsidiary, has been supporting him with his project since the beginning.
The Leonard Intrapreneur program: an extraordinary opportunity
Applicants are sometimes encouraged to apply by their colleagues and superiors, or former candidates who felt the dynamic potential of the program while applying.
“During a career meeting, HR made it clear to me that Leonard was there if I wanted to break down walls and explore new possibilities. I left the meeting and applied the very next day.” Kheir-Edine Nasrallah, leader of the “AllsPitality – Employee accommodation” project.
To them, Leonard seems to be the ideal framework for setting up large‑scale projects.
“The interesting thing about Leonard is that, if you go in with an innovative idea, you won’t be met with skepticism — “He works in construction and wants to move towards artificial intelligence — who does he think he is?!” On the contrary, it’s a positive environment that encourages innovation.” Mathieu Devillers, leader of the “sAIfe on site” project.
For many, Leonard is a dream opportunity and would enable them to set up their projects while retaining a certain level of security.
“I found it really interesting that within the company, we have the opportunity to set up our own businesses. The project motivates me on a daily basis.“ Marie Lebreton, leader of the “Solxata” project.
Entrepreneurs at heart, the applicants came here to resolve problems that they have faced in their day‑to‑day work, or to lead a business project linked to the VINCI Group’s activities that has not yet been developed. They have already tested certain ideas at their companies and now want to take them to the next level.
Cross‑disciplinary, ambitious and ethical projects
The striking thing about these projects is the extent of their ambition. None of them would see the light of day without the VINCI Group and the resources it offers, both in terms of financial support and knowledge sharing.
“I like to change the way things are.” Dominic Walkling, leader of the “Sustainability Mapper” project
“What interests me about Leonard is that you can put forward a project which will be of interest to the whole group and create a new business.” Alexandre Cousin, leader of the “APPIA” project
Although the projects vary, there are common themes. Artificial intelligence comes up a lot, therefore, in construction technologies. It is seen as a possibility to address identified needs that involve repetitive and cognitive tasks.
Environmentally‑friendly ambitions also appear in the form of resource optimization. Another theme that the candidates care about is security — for data, but also workers.
“I’m aiming for zero accidents on worksites. My project entails various challenges — ethical, financial and commercial.” Mathieu Devillers
This year, the intrapreneur program will incubate a social business project. The project leader, Christelle, wants to develop professional integration in maintenance, operations and multi‑service activities.
“I want to help the long‑term unemployed build their skills and access stable, permanent contracts. I also want to increase the number of women in professional integration.” Christelle Bullio, leader of the “Build’IN social solutions” project
After a four‑month incubation period, the intrapreneurs will present their projects to the acceleration committee, which is formed of investors and members of the Management Committee. If the committee are convinced by the business model, the project will be supported for four months, and the project leader will be able to dedicate up to 100% of their time to it.
“We are lucky in that we can use the experience of the first year intrapreneurs, who have finished the program. Two launched a new business unit with a team of five people, and another two launched a new activity within a company. The intrapreneur program is also a great way to identify talents and subjects. During this qualifying phase, some will join the intrapreneur program, while others will see their ideas being carried forward by the VINCI business line innovation programs, or enriching potential focuses for Leonard.” Nathalie Martin Sorvillo, Head of Innovative Programs, coordinates the intrapreneur program
If you would like to follow the program’s progress, find us again on 29 January for the intrapreneur program Rush Week evening.