Investing in start-ups contributes to the Group’s Open Innovation policy. Each of Bouygues’ business segments has its own investment fund to take minority holdings in recently created high-potential companies with which the Group believes it can develop strong synergies that add business value. Every year since 2017, the Group has exhibited at the VivaTech event, where it showcases the innovations that help it best meet its social and environmental pledges, as well its ecosystem of start-ups and intrapreneurs.
An innovation- and synergy-driven approach to investment
This policy of working closely with nimble and innovative start-ups is motivated by the Group’s aim of integrating innovative technologies, transforming its working methods and, more broadly, identifying and encouraging the emergence of new business models across its business segments.
The business segments’ individual investment funds focus on the early stages and hence are mainly involved in raising Seed money or Serie A funding.
These funds’ investment proposition is based on four key factors:
- Investments of between €100,000 and €1 million
- Long-term support
- Investment as a sole partner or, preferably, with co-investors
- Minority holdings
The start-ups added to the business segments’ portfolios benefit from:
- Accelerated commercial opportunities
- Access to the wealth of business expertise across the Group
- Greater credibility, especially in order to raise additional funding
As part of its innovation drive, which draws on over 100 partnerships (with companies, universities, start-ups, NGOs, etc.), Bouygues Construction founded Construction Venture in 2015. The purpose of this investment fund is to invest in and support strategic start-ups. So far, Construction Venture has invested in eleven start-ups. This year, a partnership agreement was signed between Construction Venture and Bouygues Energies & Services to invest in the French start-up PowiDian, which was launched in 2013. Bouygues Construction expects this partnership to help it expand its green hydrogen offering.
The Innovation Unit at Colas has partnered with RB3D, a cobotics (collaborative robotics) specialist, to develop “ExoPush”. This cobot, which is designed to help site workers with the manual application of asphalt mixes, has now advanced to the mass production phase. Colas, which now has around 80 “ExoPushes”, has made this innovation available to the whole of the civil works sector. Colas has also invested in a start-up called Dawex, the aim of which is to implement a data exchange platform. Contracts have also been signed with other start-ups, particularly in the area of BIM. Colas has teamed up with WiseBIM, for example, which helps property managers make the digital transition to building information modelling.
Olivier Durix, Directeur général nouvelles activités et innovation
In 2015, Bouygues Immobilier founded Bird (Bouygues Immobilier R&D), a subsidiary investing in start-ups focused on the property development sector. So far it has invested in around ten. Bouygues Immobilier is also a founding member of Real Estech Europe, which runs a network of property developers and start-ups. It is also a partner of French Proptech, a network of about 40 French start-ups which aim to support the digital transformation of property development and construction. Additionally, through its Lyon regional branch, Bouygues Immobilier sits on the board of Centsept, a parapublic federation that supports the development of social innovation in the Lyon metropolitan area.
As a representative of the media sector on the start-up campus Station F, TF1 launched an incubator programme in January 2018 that will trial and mass produce innovative solutions and services, in line with new market practices and changes within the professions. During this six-month programme, start-ups are supported by professional experts and sponsors from TF1.
Arnaud Mopin, Directeur innovation
Bouygues Telecom has supported open innovation since 2009. Bouygues Telecom Initiatives, its decade-old incubator, has overseen around a hundred co-development projects with start-ups. Half of them have become partnerships, with several notable successes:
- Recommerce: a specialist in high-end smartphone refurbishing and a partner of Bouygues Telecom in the field of recovery and recycling for the past 10 years.
- Deepomatic: a specialist in AI-based image analysis which developed a quality-control solution for Bouygues Telecom based on photos taken by technicians during FTTH installations.
- Evina: a Parisian start-up specialising in cybersecurity, which safeguards telecoms operators from fraudulent transactions. In addition, Bouygues Telecom Initiatives has invested in 12 start-ups.
Enlisting Group expertise through Bouygues Développement
Bouygues Développement, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bouygues SA, is a fund manager that helps the investment funds of the Group’s five business segments to acquire minority stakes in start-ups.
Drawing on its position as a Group-wide entity and its corporate venture capital expertise, Bouygues Développement supports the business segments at various stages of the investment process.
Although innovation departments within each business segment identify potential start-ups, and although each business segment takes the final investment decision, Bouygues Développement handles the actual investment process, from identification (analysis of the target and issuance of a recommendation) through monitoring to exit.