For the 4th EDF Pulse Awards, EDF held an open day for key players in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship during EDF Pulse Day.
Including the launch of the EDF New Business unit and the prize-giving ceremony for the 2017 EDF Pulse awards, the event provided an opportunity for startups to discover the various support measures proposed by EDF and also demonstrated that in addition to the prizes, our electric future is being invented right now and is moving forward quickly thanks to our combined efforts.
On 19 September in Paris, in the impressive setting of the Gaîté Lyrique, EDF welcomed entrepreneurs, investment funds, business angels and other stakeholders in the innovation field for half a day devoted to demonstrations, networking and creative thinking focused 100% on startups.
With the Innovation Hub, the EDF Pulse Awards, EDF Pulse & You and EDF Pulse Croissance, the group is actively pursuing numerous open innovation initiatives. This range of resources seeks to get startups better known more quickly, to support them financially, to take part in experimentation or co-creation with them, and to help these young businesses to firmly take root.
Making the most of this day devoted to meetings and dialogue, EDF’s staff put forward their own pitch, to present the group’s open innovation initiatives to startups, on stage in the Networking Area. Moving from theory on to practice, forty startups, all of whom have benefited from one of these support measures with EDF, presented their innovations and shared their experience and feedback in the Demonstration area.
Among the initiatives presented by EDF, Electranova Capital fund, launched in 2012 in partnership with Idinvest Partners, supports startups in the energy, Smart Cities and mobility fields to boost the use of digital technology in these sectors. This was how the Techniwood startup, which gave a presentation in the demonstration area, came to benefit from two fundraising initiatives in 2014 and 2015. These enabled it to continue the commercial development of its innovation called Panobloc, a wood panelboard with excellent heat performance.
EDF’s teams also presented the Innovation Hub. Given the task of detecting high potential new businesses in France and worldwide, it has a design laboratory to produce prototypes, to test them and to apply new processes, technologies and solutions.
Two of the investment and detection instruments to be used by the Group’s new unit, EDF Pulse Croissance the launch of which was announced during this special day.
EDF Pulse Croissance is both an investment fund and a business incubator for promising young startups.
Michel Vanhaesbroucke, manager of EDF Pulse Croissance
Its role is to foster a thirst for entrepreneurship and innovation within the Group, to encourage the emergence of tomorrow’s activities and to ensure a successful energy transition. As a result, 40 million Euros will be invested in 10 startup projects within two years.
“With EDF New Business, we want to see innovative ideas come to fruition in concrete terms, and to ensure progress for all activities, whether these are B to C or B to B, by setting up internal-external partnerships. We can help an EDF employee with a promising development idea to move from the idea stage to the project stage and from the project stage to a startup. We also pay great attention to finding innovation wherever it may be and forging partnerships to speed up the deployment of the solution”, explains Michel Vanhaesbroucke
Jean-Bernard Lévy, CEO of EDF, awards the startups Howz, GEPS Techno, Autonhome and Woodoo in the categories Smart Home, Smart Business, Smart Health and Smart City. Panda Guide receives the People's Choice Award.
The Europe 1 Social Room, live, to get the instant reactions from the five EDF Pulse Awards prize-winners. Louise Rogerson, Head of Service Development of Howz, winner in the category Smart Home, with Anicet MBida.
Paris Pionnières and EDF Pulse strengthen their partnership to feminize entrepreneurship in the Tech business by launching the programme EDF Pulse WoChange. Three startup, CozyAir, Citeazy, Zéphyr Solar will be supported during 6 months. Photo : Paolo Verzone
The Networking area where EDF people’s pitches took place to present EDF’s support initiatives with startups. Photo: Paolo Verzone
Valérie Levkov, EDF Group’s Africa & Middle East manager, pitches in the Networking area. The EDF Pulse Awards exports itself in Africa to reward and support African startups. EDF wants to be a part of the energetic future of Africa.
Christophe Reinert, Innovation Hub delegate, exposes the stakes for a start-up to work with a Group like EDF. Among the innovation missions: to support transformation within EDF Group’s businesses, to produce prototypes…
EDF Pulse Awards finalists just before their pitch in front of the Grand Jury. A lot of concentration…
EDF, a valuable partner when it comes to testing solutions
These various measures are also accompanied by the possibility to test your solutions with consumers thanks to EDF Pulse & You. Presented by Florence Barale, Business Innovation Programme manager at EDF, this co-innovation platform brings together 5,600 web surfers, who test and assess the solutions put forward by young entrepreneurs.
At EDF Pulse & You, we aim to work with private individuals and startups to jointly create the domestic services of tomorrow.
Florence Barale, EDF Pulse & You
An objective which has been achieved with the Smart & Blue startup in Grenoble: “Thanks to EDF Pulse & You, 100 families had an opportunity to test Hydrao, our smart shower head, to submit their comments on the way it works and put forward recommendations, particularly concerning the packaging. We saw record levels of participation in this innovation platform!” explained Mathilde Trennert, business manager for startups in the French market, who was present in the demonstration area. “The result is that we have been able to optimise our product, which is today available through outlets such as Leroy Merlin, Orange or Mood”. Hydrao has already sold more than 8,000 units and is now generating interest from the B to B sector and the hotel trade in particular.
The EDF Pulse competition goes international
Finally, the EDF teams looked back at the success of the EDF Pulse awards nationally, but also regionally and in subsidiaries such as the UK, to which it was extended last year with the EDF Energy Pulse Award.
A number of former prize winners were also in the demonstration area on 19 September to talk about the visibility they gained thanks to the EDF Pulse Awards.
Among these, the startup Echy talked about the progress achieved since the EDF Pulse Awards. As competition winner in the Smart City category in 2014, its novel solution to provide natural lighting by fibre-optics for “blind” rooms, will soon be used to light up the Gare de Lyon metro station.
The event was also attended by the startup Oreka, the winner of the EDF Pulse Normandy award last March, including a support package of 10,000 euros to continue the development of its SIMULHOM virtual reality software. Or the British startup Intelesant, with its Howz smart home solution for senior citizens, which received an award during the evening in the Smart Home category, after having scooped an EDF Energy Pulse Award several months earlier.
Backed by such success stories, EDF enthusiastically announced the arrival of its competition in Africa with the EDF Pulse Africa Awards. For several weeks now, all African startups with solutions to put forward in the fields of electrical usage and services, water access or off-grid production have been invited to apply. “We are now looking to work with young African startups on solutions to be deployed in Africa, as the European electrical development model is not the same as that required for Africa. Proactively seeking out African startups is therefore a great way to reward and support innovative solutions which start life as close as possible to the requirements needing to be met, explained Valérie Levkov, the EDF Group’s Africa & Middle East manager.
The discussions between the supported startups, the innovation ecosystem and EDF’s staff were particularly rich and fruitful and will doubtless inspire numerous new partnerships in the future.
All the more so as with the awarding of the prizes for these 4th EDF Pulse Awards, which rounded off the event by rewarding 5 talented entrepreneurs, EDF Pulse Day superbly demonstrated and promoted the potential of co-innovation.