SUPPORT FOR START-UPS IS HELPING TO DRIVE TOTAL’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
CES is truly the place to be for start-ups and more established businesses interested in gaining recognition for their disruptive innovations. For the second straight year, our Group opted to attend alongside the Greater Paris Region, Air France and Dassault Systems, to showcase artificial intelligence solutions developed by four start-ups we work with. Michael Offredi, Digital Ecosystem & Innovation Officer, talks about why Total needs to enlist start-ups and support their growth.
Which start-ups did you take with you to CES?
Michael Offredi / We took four start-ups to CES this year. FieldBox.ai offers a data analytics platform that helps industry boost productivity and predict failures. DCbrain is the Waze of energy networks, displaying gas and power flows in real time and optimizing them. eSoftThings, specialized in miniaturized wireless communication systems, has developed a smart energy metering platform for homes. And Uavia provides connected, autonomous drones for real-time, remote aerial inspection of production facilities. All four deliver solutions that are based on new AI technologies.
Why did Total feature these start-ups at the highly regarded CES event?
M.O. / The start-ups we meet or work with bring in fresh ideas and inspire and challenge us. Working with them via open innovation helps drive Total’s digital transformation. Showcasing them at events like CES helps them get their name out and create opportunities to grow internationally and build their company. Nurturing a healthy ecosystem is positive for everyone.
Besides participating in events like this, how does Total support the growth of start-ups?
M.O. / We have stepped up our game to better identify start-ups working on topics most relevant to our businesses. Today, we have feelers out across the board: being in incubators brings us closer to start-ups that offer solutions for industry, the future of mobility and the transformation of HR. Once we’ve scouted them, we can look at all types of partnerships, from having Total Energy Ventures1 acquire a minority interest in them and or providing Total Développement Régional2 loans to conducting proof of concept testing, co-pursuing development, establishing ordinary customer-supplier relationships and even mentoring.
It seems like Total is trying to move at the same pace as start-ups. M.O. / We are. The whole idea is to help our businesses adapt to the specific work style and approach of start-ups. That’s also why we worked with the procurement and legal teams to set up a simpler contracting process. We’ve also developed an internal approved-partner database, somewhat like a dating site. People can now add the contact information for a company they think would have something of interest to Total's businesses to Adopt a Start-Up and the system will match it with operational needs listed on the platform. And it works: there have already been cases of love at first sight!
1 Total Energy Ventures is Total’s venture capital arm for investing in energy start-up
2 Total Développement Régional supports business growth and job creation in small French companies