Innovation in favor of the energy transition according to Engie

On the occasion of the 2022 edition of VivaTech, Engy has brought together several startups with which the group collaborates. Detailed collaboration by Stephen Kerry, Director of Ecosystems in the Research and Innovation Division atEngy.

How is ENGIE’s innovation support organized?

Stephen Kerry: We are developing a culture of innovation in ENGIE and openness to external ecosystems. So we are developing the capabilities of ENGIE’s 100,000 employees for innovation reflection with processes, innovation awards, and internal innovation and entrepreneurship communities that allow employees to develop new offerings. We also work closely with startups through connections, collaboration, and tools that allow for this operational synergy and investment fund.

Why such a device in favor of innovation?

SQ: Our primary business is the transmission of energy. However, not all technologies have yet been created that will make it possible to achieve zero carbon. There are many and we use them. A lot will arrive very soon and we have mastered them but there are still plenty of things to create. This is why we work in the short, medium and long term, both with our research centers, operational entities and of course with start-ups.

What topics do you focus on?

SQ: It is clear that renewable electricity, how to improve it, and produce it differently. We have, for example, on our stand a company that we are a partner and investor in that manufactures flexible solar films that we can put on buildings for example. Main topic 2: Biogas production and its second generation, and how to produce it in another way, with other sources, such as non-recyclable materials. The third angle: Green hydrogen produced with electricity that is not consumed, and has various uses such as gas to generate electricity or to combine it to make new ones.

How does your cooperation with startups materialize?

SQ: Level 1 is business cooperation. Over the years, we’ve built an ecosystem around us and partner with others to connect our colleagues who manage the operating entities. We also launch calls for solutions projects when a collective entity is looking for an additional offering. This is level 2. We can also invest in startups with our fund ENGIE New Ventures that take minority stakes in startups that are of strategic importance to us. There are also support programs, routing…the key is this friction in the positive sense of the term between Engie’s operating entities and start-ups.

What types of startups do you support?

SQ: The startup, for example, uses electric batteries with a second life. They are used to store the electricity produced and to absorb the peak consumption. You also have a startup that combines green hydrogen and carbon dioxide2 To make biofuels, for example e-kerosene for aircraft. Final example: Because we produce a lot of data, we’re collaborating with Dataiku, a French semi-rhino, and our partner to help us develop use cases from our wealth of data.

Do you think the world is innovating enough to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow?

SQ: We can never go fast enough already late! We all have to start, move forward, innovate, and test new technologies. I am convinced that new technologies are part of the solution. Not all of them are there yet. We have to go fast and together we try to get there as much as we can.

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