“Innovate like a start-up” is an in-house innovation hub driven by Bouygues’ determination to reinvent its business activities. The idea is for the Group to draw on the creativity of its employees to invent and roll out solutions that will meet the great challenges of the 21st century.


Action Tank BYSA at OpenMind Cafe
Action Tank Bouygues at OpenMind Cafe

Since 2016, the “Innovate like a start-up” programme brings together around 50 employees from all the Group’s business segments. Their task is to invent new and tangible solutions to make urban environments more sustainable and more pleasant to live in, as a way of meeting the environmental and societal challenges of the future. Together they design, prototype and test actual and feasible solutions by drawing on the potential generated by the synergies between all the Group’s business segments.

Via a compact and dynamic programme based on four workshops organised over one half year, participants acquire the methods and tools for designing nimble and frugal business models in order to turn ideas into solutions. At the end of the half year, the multi-disciplinary teams defend their projects before the Sustainable City & Circular Economy Action Tank, which is a jury comprised of decision-makers from all the Group’s business activities.


From an idea to creating a structure

Action Tank BYSA at OpenMind Cafe

There are three main stages in a project, from the initial idea to the commercial roll-out:

  • IDEAS GENERATION (or creative thinking stage): the teams come together to devise solutions that address the problems affecting cities (pollution, weak social fabric, saturated transport links, etc.). Using innovative tools and methodologies (IdeaMaker, Business Model Canevas, empathy map, etc.), they are able to sketch out, via frequent visits in the field, a proposition based on an effective business model for the Group. They are then coached so that they can defend their idea before the Action Tank.
  • THE MATURATING PHASE: this aims to ensure the concept’s viability by testing it in the market. The project is then given the human and financial resources required to build a prototype and to test the solution’s proof of concept.
  • THE INCUBATION or acceleration phase: When the solution appears economically viable and rolled out on a large scale, it results in the creation of a structure (start-up, subsidiary or business unit integrated into a subsidiary), with its related governance. At this stage, the project initiators have the opportunity of becoming intrapreneurs by working, if they so wish, full-time on the realisation of their idea.



A theme for each season

Action Tank BYSA at OpenMind Cafe

Each year, the teams organising “Innovate like a start-up” choose a societal innovation theme for the participants.

The first season was based on the theme of “Positive Economy Hybrid Building”. The concept aims to make buildings self-sufficient in resources and/or a profit centre (sharing equipment, re-using spaces, recycling construction materials, etc.).

The second season was based on the theme “Rethink the City”. This aimed to propose solutions to address the problems affecting urban environments, such as the lack of natural habitats and social fabric in cities, stress , hyperconnectivity, pollution, urban heat islands) with solutions based on the production and re-use of local resources, the reduction of disturbances through changes in use, the monetisation of virtuous behaviour and alternative business models, industrial ecology applied to the city, and the sharing of infrastructure (transport, buildings, etc.)

Finally, the third season will be on the theme of the productive city, with the aim of finding solutions to make cities more self-sufficient and resilient by cutting wastage related to the circulation of materials and people and by optimising the ability of infrastructure to produce its own resources, drawing mainly on “positive energy” solutions and the principles of the circular economy (short supply chains, water, energy and food).


The intrapreneurship programme “Innovate like a start-up” is one of the components making up Bouygues group’s open innovation initiative, which aims to breathe life into an eco-system made up of start-ups and build partnerships that are lucrative for the future of its business segments.


Version française