BY Capgemini
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IT trends spotted and checked by experts


What happens

More than 5,000 start-ups will be present at the first edition of Viva Technology which will take place from 30 June to 2 July in Paris. They will be called upon to rise to challenges set by the likes of Axa, LVMH, Accor, Engie, PMU and Novartis.

so what?

Head of Capgemini's Applied Innovation Exchange

Jean-Claude Guyard is Head of the Applied Innovation Exchange in Suresnes (located west of Paris), A space for innovation where clients, start-ups and partners come together to share their experiences...

By creating "spin-off companies", "incubators", and "hackathons", large companies are testing new ways to harness the energetic "start-up spirit" and foster a culture of innovation. But do these efforts risk suffocating genuine fledgling enterprises, and is it possible to have a balanced relationship between multinationals and start-ups?

How have you seen the relationship between big companies and start-ups evolve?

In the past, big companies took over start-ups and sometimes ended up nipping innovation in the bud. After such acquisitions, there would be talent "brain drains" and a dysfunctional upheaval. The start-up is required to adapt its product in order to respond to the needs of its new owner, at the risk of becoming the sole provider of a product that is too specific. By drifting further away from the market, the start-up can also lose the disruptive element of its innovation. Ultimately, buying a start-up means taking a bet on the future: ingenious technology can become outdated only six months later.

Today, large groups are conscious of the need to protect newcomers from their constraints and, at times, flaws. These large groups have therefore created spaces for innovation in order to take start-ups under their wing without suffocating them. It's a bit like an adolescent moving out of the family home and into the small shack at the bottom of the garden: they are independent but at the same time they remain close to their parents. Some groups have also created investment funds for start-ups, with the former only committing to minor participation, without major demands for immediate profitability but, instead, looking more at success in the mid-term.  

This balanced relationship enables a "cross-fertilisation" process. The group provides counselling and mentoring and, in return, the entrepreneurs help the group to benefit from that entrepreneurial spirit that start-ups are so famous for, asking questions like "How can we convert to new methods via design thinking and flexible measures?" "How, with the aid of API (Application Programming Interface), can we associate an innovative product with an already long-established IT system?"

How can we ensure that this relationship lasts?

In our spaces for innovation, the Applied Innovation Exchanges, Capgemini brings together start-ups and large groups. The former have a unique opportunity to "pitch" to a select    group of CAC 40 stock exchange decision-makers. 

With hard-nosed clients to convince, a start-up's rhetoric must be relevant, and we prepare them to take the floor. Some start-ups are run by people who are brilliant creators but who perhaps do not fully grasp part of the reality of the market and thus start off with the wrong economic model. They also need to learn to disconnect themselves from purely technological issues in order to be able to talk about usage and return on investment.
What other forms of open innovation have you seen? 

Open Innovation can be internal too. Indeed, this particular element of innovation is sometimes neglected, even when partners have a strong propensity for innovation. Once mobilised, they can make spontaneous proposals to enable gains in productivity and to overcome everyday problems. 

Through competitions, hackathons, challenges and appeals for ideas we can also create vocations.   The academic community is also particularly active in this field. Students contribute to these events during the academic year or during their gap years. Capgemini will soon participate in a hackathon that will focus on "MIAGES" (Mathematics and Computer Science Methods Applied to Business Management) in France, and where one of the many themes will be "What uses can humanoid robots have"? 

Who cares?

  All large companies are concerned, whatever their sector of activity. In order to not become "Uberised", they have to instil a culture of innovation and adopt start-up methods internally.

Their digital transformation plan will inevitably have an open innovation dimension to it. This can take different forms, from hackathons to raising capital, not to mention mentoring, incubation, spin-off companies or the setting up of accelerators.

Some large groups go as far as taking over start-ups, such as Crédit Mutuel Arkéa which acquired the fintech company Leetchi.

Companies like Société Générale, on the other hand, prefer to simply increase links between their employees and the digital ecosystem.   
Innovators Race

As Capgemini turns 50, we give early stage start-ups the opportunity to jump-start their business and win equity-free funding of $50,000.

For more information:

Innovators Race

As Capgemini turns 50, we give early stage start-ups the opportunity to jump-start their business and win equity-free funding of $50,000.

For more information:

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