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VIPs, researchers, and business and opinion leaders share their take on news items or key issues about digital transformation or energy transition.

Too often used as a slogan, innovation must return to its original purpose – value creation – so that it acts as a catalyst for growth for our business units.  

Based on a unique organisational structure, VINCI Energies is a group with revenue of approximately €14 billion and operations in 50-plus countries. We are a network of over 1,800 human-sized, agile business units, firmly rooted in their regions and markets. 

 There’s a certain paradox when it comes to innovation. On the one hand, everyone agrees that innovation is more vital than ever: not innovating means dying in the short to medium term, no longer being competitive or able to stand out from the pack. But on the other hand, innovation strategies in businesses are revealing many limitations – innovation used as a slogan devoid of content or meaning, innovation for innovation’s sake, cut off from reality – which can lead to disillusionment.   

 To solve this paradox, VINCI Energies has built its innovation strategy around three convictions: 

  1. For every innovation there must be a use case benefit; 
  2. Innovation must be meaningful, it must meet an objective; 
  3. Innovation is everyone’s business, it starts in the field. 

 Innovation that is tied to use case benefits 

As far as innovation is concerned, the market is at least as important as technology. An innovative idea in itself has little value. It’s about having the right idea, at the right time, for the right use case and the right market. 

The value of innovations is increasingly linked to meaningful issues. 

Innovation is intrinsically linked to the notion of use. In order for an idea to become an innovation, clients have to buy it. And for them to buy it, they have to benefit from it, whether from its performance, its ease of use or whether they can promote it to their own end-client.   

 Clients will buy into the idea all the more readily if they’ve been involved its design (through an open innovation process), with the key to success probably being to take small steps and implement a collaborative test & learn approach before broader deployment. 

Innovation that has meaning 

An innovation is more likely to be successful if it supports a company’s wider goals. And in fact, its value is increasingly linked to meaningful issues (ethics, sustainable consumption, CSR). It’s clear that new carbon emission reduction goals set by businesses are unlocking creativity around innovation and giving a new lease of life to ideas which until now haven’t “passed muster” purely through the application of financial criteria.  

The value of innovations is increasingly linked to meaningful issues. 

Innovation that starts in the field 

In order to develop useful, tangible ideas that add value and meaning, innovation cannot be left solely to R&D and innovation units or laboratories. At VINCI Energies, innovation is driven by a unique and decentralised organisational structure of 1,800 business units, which deal on a daily basis with changes in their markets and in their clients’ needs. These business units all have innovation in their DNA and are constantly innovating in the field. 

 The various in-country VINCI Energies innovation teams along with company brands and of course the Innovation Department help business units make the most of this potential by:  

  • Giving them easy access to methods, processes and ecosystems (start-ups, partners, universities) to develop innovative ideas and translate them into projects; 
  • Stimulating thinking based on technical and competitive intelligence;
  • Fostering the sharing of good practices and circulating information;
  • Pooling and disseminating useful innovations to as many people as possible;
  • Promoting innovations outside the company. 


Philippe Conus, Innovation Director at VINCI Energies

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