Benoît Ringot 2EI Project Director, Innovation division, Veolia
It all began in 2008, when we set up a partnership with the microcredit group Grameen, whose Managing Director Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Its aim is to produce affordable drinking water in rural areas where the groundwater tables are naturally contaminated with arsenic. As such, we created a joint venture with the Grameen group to produce and distribute drinking water. We innovated, tested several economic strategies, supported local populations to facilitate their understanding of the issues, and we are, today, very satisfied with the social and economic results. Following on from this experience, in 2014 we launched the social open innovation project Pop Up by Veolia. Through this program, we want to help local entrepreneurs flourish and co-create innovative solutions to meet the social challenges faced by our stakeholders. The initiative is offered as an option to local authorities whom we feel are interested in this type of social solution.
The Pop Up by Veolia program starts with a diagnostic phase carried out by 2EI to identify the most pertinent local issues to be addressed. Veolia then launches a call for applications and the winners are supported free of charge in incubators for several months. This allows them to more effectively shape their approach and business model. Veolia will rely on 2EI to co-construct innovative solutions with the most promising entities, for instance by providing funding, professional expertise or a business opportunity.