Xavier Huillard welcomes the 45 projects supported by Leonard in 2023

On the occasion of the launch of the 2023 classes of Leonard's acceleration and support programs, Xavier Huillard, Chairman and CEO of VINCI, greeted and presented his best wishes to the 45 projects supported by Leonard in 2023.

On January 11, Leonard held its Launch Day, the “re-entry meeting” of the teams of the 45 innovative projects supported, in 2023, by the programs of VINCI’s foresight and innovation platform. Discover these 45 ventures in construction, mobility and energy!

Hello everyone,

As you know, at VINCI, we attach great importance to the momentum you are building. Our three large businesses – energy, mobility and construction – are very rich soil for innovation if we fertilise it properly. This is what we are doing through Leonard, with you, the entrepreneurs bringing innovative solutions from within the Group’s ranks and from the galaxy of startups proliferating in our businesses.

In the face of the changes that concern us all, we are all part of a cycle of permanent reinvention that is shaping our business transformation in step with the world’s transformation. It is not enough to enshrine transformation in our strategic plans: to materialise, this transformation needs projects devised by our community of innovative entrepreneurs, ideas and projects that spring from real life in our business lines, that provide viable leads which will become applications that support our companies’ operations; we help to germinate within Leonard, and that we help to grow in our companies, into new business activities, new solutions and new services, that we can offer to our customers.

This is the role of Leonard’s four support programmes. And the results are there. The first one we launched, our Intrapreneurs programme, has already worked with 64 projects in 6 cohorts, and 17 of these projects have become business units or new business operations in VINCI. They now employ around 100 people and generated about €12 million in business in 2021.

Our two programmes for startups are also bearing fruit. Leonard’s portfolio already includes 32 early-stage startups in its SEED programme. Seven of them have already raised a total of over €5 million in funding and eight have developed pilots or signed contracts with Group companies. The second programme, CATALYST, has already worked with over 30 companies at a more advanced stage of development. It has fulfilled its role as a catalyst by building bridges with our businesses: to date, 95 contracts have been signed between innovative companies on the CATALYST programme and companies in the Group.

The fourth programme, the Artificial Intelligence programme, is already playing a pivotal role in efforts to blend AI into our trades, across a very wide spectrum of applications, which you can see in the use cases that our project leaders are exploring: they range from predictive maintenance for industrial plants, energy systems and transport infrastructure, to generative design and optimising aircraft carbon emissions. Including the 14 new projects this year, this programme has supported no fewer than 50 AI-related initiatives set in motion by our companies, and has trained more than 200 VINCI managers.

All the real progress that the previous cohorts have spurred is naturally encouraging for the new cohorts that are starting our acceleration programme at Leonard. Including internal and external innovators, you are about 50 in the 2023 cohorts on our four programmes. All the projects you are working on – their diversity, their inventiveness, their technicality, and even their daring – show that our businesses provide an inspiring arena. Because what is at play in this arena is the answer to the big challenges facing the world today and the path we can plot to a desirable future, a future where we respect the limits of the planet while inventing new housing arrangements, and new ways of working and producing, of building cities, of living and of travelling.

It is significant that the issues that dominate all the others – the climate and the environment – are also gaining more and more prominence in Leonard’s programmes. These issues are predominant in this year’s projects. This shows that the areas you are innovating in are completely in phase with the strategic priority that we set at VINCI when we started rolling out our new environmental ambition at the beginning of this decade.

Within these overarching issues – the climate and the environment –, the question of energy is driving a growing number of projects. Particularly this year. The energy crisis we are navigating reminds us that energy is absolutely vital for our economies and for our societies.

We need to do, more than ever, what you are doing: explore new energy-efficiency solutions and new sources of energy. So we are particularly excited to hear about your ideas. Proposals around solar energy, wave energy and wind energy are abundant in this new cohort. I particularly appreciate the first projects from intrapreneurs who had the courage to look into nuclear energy, and I appreciate the courage of the panel that selected them. To inspire you in your efforts to realise all these ideas around energy, remember that one of the projects in our first Intrapreneurs cohort, the SunMind project, is now a jewel in VINCI Concessions’ choice of solar energy solutions, along with SolarVia at VINCI Autoroutes.

Turning ideas into projects, then turning projects into reality in our business ecosystem is a seamless process when we have seen that the initial proposal is viable and it matures during the acceleration process. This is the whole goal in this new phase for the 47 projects in our 2023 cohort. And this is the whole point of the collective innovation drive that you will help to animate as part of the Leonard galaxy.

With you, we are inventing the future of our business today. So unleash your creativity. We are by your side to help you express it to the full.

I wish each and every one of you every success and an excellent year in 2023. This year will be full of challenges but, most importantly, full of promises.

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