Leonard: opening up further in 2018

Leonard took its first steps in 2017, and then the adventure picked up speed and changed scale in 2018. VINCI’s open laboratory for the future of cities and infrastructure has never been more akin to the man it is named after than it is today.

Inauguration Leonard

2018 was a pivotal year – and packed with new exchanges and milestones: we inaugurated a new venue, worked on a variety of initiatives with partners in the public sector, private sector and research circles, and had variety of experts come in and talk about the future of cities and infrastructure with us at our festival. No fewer than 5,000 inquisitive minds attended at least one of the 36 events we’ve hosted over the past six months. Every community that is imagining and building tomorrow’s cities has a meeting place at Leonard:Paris!

Leonard is many things. But the most important one is open. Here’s a five-movement recap of the 2018 highlights.

Leonard:Paris opens its doors wide

VINCI’s Chairman and CEO, Xavier Huillard, officially inaugurated Leonard:Paris, the Group’s common home, in Paris’s 12th arrondissement. This new 1,500 sqm venue – which will soon grow to 5,000 sqm – is designed to house the full spectrum of skills and harness all the energy focused on transforming VINCI’s activities and business lines. Leonard is here to join forces with the Group’s operations teams and with other people and organisations outside VINCI. When Mr Huillard spoke about our vision, he underlined the important role that collective intelligence will play in tackling the challenges ahead.

Couldn’t make it but want to have a look around Leonard:Paris? Take the 360° tour.

Leonard:Paris hosted its first events and took in its first residents as soon as it opened – including the VINCI Foundation ambassadors, VINCI Construction France teams for a day-long workshop on environmental performance, and the VINCI-ParisTech Eco-Design Chair for its seminar.

The Group’s employees weren’t the only ones who found out about Leonard:Paris this year! We also welcomed other experts and enthusiasts at the first festival we hosted, Building Beyond, in 2018. The 25 events during that festival featured architects, writers, philosophers, engineers and even astronauts sharing their views on the city of the future and broadening our horizons with their insights. About 100 speakers took turns to talk at this six-week-long get-together and inspire participants with their thoughts on topics ranging from the algorithm city to the circular economy and on to connected objects. Others took their audiences on journeys to explore the spark of imagination that cities need, showed films excerpts to scrutinise the future of cities and toyed with the idea of building on the moon.

Missed it? Never mind, here’s a crash course to catch up with 10 inspirational quotes.

Leonard opens up the conversation about the future of mobility

Mobility (and its variants, i.e. electric, connected, autonomous and other forms of mobility) naturally emerged as one of the key focus areas for innovation in 2018. We wanted to join this forward-looking debate and were proud to host several events throughout the year, including a conference on the big challenges facing sustainable transitions by the Association Nationale de la Recherche et de la Technologie (ANRT) and the Open Transport meetup in partnership with Kisio.

Leonard took the lead in the Mobilités challenge during the third DataCity, a programme set in motion by NUMA Paris alongside leading companies and Paris City Council and geared to proposing innovative approaches to the many issues revolving around cities.

Tim Papandreou, who worked for Waymo at the time, spoke about the challenges facing autonomous mobility in his talk at Leonard:Paris at the beginning of October. We also discussed the hopes and fears that people shared in France’s Citizens’ Debate on the topic. And we’re proud to be on one of the four teams selected to contribute to the international consultation by the Forum Métropolitain du Grand Paris on the future of expressways in the Grand Paris programme.

That was one of the topics that Leonard discussed with Jean-Louis Missika, Paris’s deputy mayor for urban planning and the Grand Paris programme, at the Futur.e.s festival we partnered.

Opening up and nurturing interest in the city of the future among inquisitive minds

At Leonard, we want to do more than open our doors and put people in touch: we also want to get inquisitive minds thinking about the cities and infrastructure of the future. Climate resilience in cities and infrastructure, new working methods, artificial intelligence and BIM were a few of the topics that foresight groups looked into with Leonard. They shared their findings and continued their conversation in an Emerging Trends article presenting the challenges, and at morning foresight meetings for VINCI employees.

This open attitude also shines through the variety of topics we touched on in articles we published on Leonard’s blog throughout the year. Examples from 2018 include a tour of purpose-built cities around the world, decarbonising airports, infrastructure to encourage electric mobility, the prospects for exoskeletons and the outlook for cohousing – also illustrating the plethora of factors that are helping to reinvent cities and their infrastructure.

Opening up to innovation

The central topic running through everything we have done at Leonard since the beginning is innovation, and we put covered every facet of innovation in 2018. Right after its trip to CES 2018 at the beginning of the year, Leonard’s team hosted an evening get-together to talk about the most promising technology it had found at the event. And it’s doing it again this year with a talk on CES 2019 this 24 January!

We also presented the 17 startups from the fast-track programme led by the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises at Leonard:Paris.

The foresight group on BIM (Building Information Modelling) also met at Leonard:Paris to talk about the new opportunities that BOSs (Building Operating Systems) are opening up in the construction sector by gathering information about users’ habits and using it to make smart buildings even smarter. The outlook for upgrading smart buildings using this approach is especially exciting.

Opening up even more to ideas from VINCI Group employees

Two groups of VINCI employees have completed Leonard’s intrapreneur path to develop new businesses. And we’re starting to see results! Karim Selouane, from the first contingent in 2017, is setting up Resallience, a consultancy that maps out vulnerability to climate change and then tailors its answers to it. He presented his services to help cities prepare their adaptation and transformation strategies at the Change Now international summit. This project ties in with Leonard’s work on climate resilience, which it summed up in an Emerging Trends article.

Two other developments in 2018 were Concreative, a BU that specialises in concrete 3D printing in Dubai, and Rehalib, a solution that harnesses virtual reality to take renovation and redevelopment into the digital realm. GTM Bâtiment has since included this solution in its catalogue. Several other intrapreneurs moved onto the fast track with their projects – in areas including renewable energies, developing augmented reality solutions to optimise work on underground utility networks, and blending users’ habits into working environments from the design phase.

And there’s more: the third group, working on eight new projects, recently started its incubation phase and we wish them all the best with their plans for new businesses!

It was great to spend 2018 working with you and we can’t wait for 2019 to get under way! The schedule is already busy with events starting this January, including the final instalments of our conference cycle on building carbon-neutral cities and the get-together for the Leonard team to present its finds from CES 2019.

Leonard:Paris will be opening up even more in 2019: we have new pioneering projects by VINCI in the pipeline, and new startups preparing to move into the building. So watch this space because we’ll be telling you more very soon!

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