Innovation stories – RNDI 2013 (1/2)

marion-bartoli-wimbledon_europe1.frLeveraging innovation to move out of the crisis was the focus of  National Meeting of Innovation Directors hold in Paris last June.

From the flow of creative ideas, I’ve picked up a handful which demonstrate both talent and determination: in Innovation resilience, I trust! ‘Stay stubborn’ appears to be as well Marion Bartoli’s message, bold French recent winner at Wimbledon: I can’t resist to put her picture in the spotlight!

5 sparkles seem to set the fire of innovation and entrepreneurship: slick public commitment, passion, pivot leadership, scientific Corpus, social and collaborative altruism.

Slick public commitment

Marc Giget spots a few clues about Germany top-performing organization and European leadership:

  • Germany attractivity is the result of stability, relability, security, continuity;
  • 5 innovation axes concentrate resources: climate energy, mobility, health, security, communication; they go along with active network connections between industry and science and physical spaces for meetings;

  • R&D public expenses are not such a high percentage of GDP: R&D expenditure is mainly private, compensated by low taxes; one Euro spent in R&D is followed by 5 to 10 in industrialization;
  • ‘Mittelstand’ holds a major economic role, relying on strong skills and values: niche focus, machine that make products, customer intimacy, long term vision, quality, expert workers (trained), focus on export;
  • More about Germany approach: Germany 2030 Future perspectives for value creation and Ideas, Innovation. Prosperity 2020

Nesta is an English independent charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. Executive Director of Policy and Research, Stian Westlake, explains how UK perceives and sustains innovation:

  • Exiting crisis shall be completed through innovation. We hesitate between austerity or stimulus, but there is a deeper problem: productivity has not grown since 2008 crisis. Innovation is the main source of productivity;
  • 40% of job creation come from start-ups; job creative businesses come from start-ups and high growing larger businesses. More innovative businesses (product & processes) grow faster;

  • Governement support to start-ups unfolds tax breaks for early stage investors, start-up loans, simplification of processes;
  • Governement support for innovation include R&D tax credits, catapult centres (new intermediate institutions: technology and innovation centres, helping business transform ideas into new products and services), cluster building (tech city, planning reform in Cambridge), deregulation, and better access to finance;
  • Innovation is not just about science and technology: creative industries, health and education, crowdfunding, social innovation, big data. More on UK focus on Technologies.


‘Concentrate on what others can’t achieve!’ is one of the lessons shared by Gildo Pastor, Venturi Automobiles founder.

Venturi si fueling its innovation spirit with passion, and some kind of ‘relentless unsatisfaction’: ‘Jamais contente’ is the name of its electrical car which broke the world speed record with 515 kmh.

Besides technological bets, Venturi likes to confront itself with challenges all over the world:

  • To sponsor its electrical car with a m€ 5 investment, it partners with the Ohio state: who could have guessed they would be interested?
  • Venturi tested a Citroën electrical car viability on a Shangai to Paris trip, with daily sections approximately 300 kms, and on an African mission: 6 000 kms across 6 countries;
  • Venturi is now preparing a vehicle for Antarctic.

Solar Impulse is an electrical and solar plane, made for perpetual flight: you take off electrically, charge the batteries during the day, and rise up to 9000 m; then you slowly slip down at night, using potential energy and batteries. The day after, you start over!

Philippe Rathle, Solar Impulse CFO, sets the bar for his moonshot:  complete a trip around the world without fuel and pollution free. He quotes Antoine de Saint Exupéry: ‘Every impossible thing is something that is still to be accomplished’.

A few surprises come along his speech:

  • Open approach, no patent, we use green tech available;
  • Solar Impulse is as wide as a Boeing, heavy as a car, has a scooter engine, and it flights!
  • Its’ a team of 90 people coming from all horizons who has made this dream come true in 4 years time: in 2013, Solar Impulse achieved its first cross-America flight;
  • What helped us was that we had no experience ever in building a flight!
  • It is not what we do that matters, it is how we think, playing on doubts, facing the unknown to stimulate creativity, shaping a pioneer spirit.

Watch Solar Impulse astonishing upshots in these videos.

Antoine de Maximy is not an innovator per se, he’s a TV show producer. Though, each time it’s a new show that he creates, as his concept, ‘I will sleep at your home‘, requires to improvise to find hospitality.

He recalls a few tips from his unusual journeys:

  • When you go in a different direction (as the concept of this show), one must expect many pitfalls, and prepare for tenacity. But, following a different direction from others, one has more chance to be the best;
  • When taking a different path, everything is yet to be discovered, which is a groundbreaking motivation;
  • Looking for a place to sleep, when an door open, you see it right away, you seize the opportunity, you are ready to move in:  encounters occur as soon as you are available;
  • Large companies should have some people inside with this kind of openess to the world. A ‘good sense of the countryside’ would not hurt either in the engineering offices, to drive toward simplification.

Read our next episode on Innovation Stories (2/2).

Credits photos : LicencePaternitéPas d'utilisation commerciale Certains droits réservés par Pierre Metivier RNDI Album



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