Nigel – What is the role of the ENGIE New Ventures (ENV) department, and its strategy?
The objective of the fund is to create a strong link between ENGIE and the world of external innovation and disruptive change as part of the energy transition. The scale effect is no longer only reserved for big companies but thanks to the digital revolution is also accessible to startups, who innovate faster than ever.
ENGIE New Ventures wants to understand this new ecosystem and create strong connections with players including start-ups and specialized investment funds, experiment new ideas via a test and learn approach and become a credible player in this ecosystem.
The fund was founded in 2014 and has grown to €180M€. It has taken minority stakes in 25 start-ups across different emerging business of which the investment in Vyntelligence is the latest. We typically do initial tickets between 2 and 4 M€ but can go larger where required.
Sebastien – How did you hear about Vyntelligence?
I had the opportunity to meet with Vynintelligence when I joined ENGIE Fab earlier this year.
ENGIE International FM had launched a pilot with Vyn some months ago on different use cases - contract mobilization with asset discovery, and Health and Safety with near misses reporting. This first pilot showed valuable insights and a good adoption by field users testing the technology. We decided to progress the conversation from there.
Harry – Can you provide some more info on the 2 trials that the EIFM team has already worked with Vyntelligence on?
During the first trial we identified the benefits of using Vyn for capturing critical asset data and their condition. The application not only improves the capturing of data but also allows the collection of qualitative information through the integration of voice and video. When it comes to H&S, the application allowed for easier completion of incident reports with the possibility to interface to multiple systems.
In the second trial, we focused on improving the capturing of near misses on an account. During the past 10 months we have gone from recording 0 near misses to a total of 34 near misses, with at least 2 near misses reported per month. The operatives have found using the technology very intuitive and less time consuming.
Sebastien – Can you tell us more about Vyntelligence and what they do?
Vyntelligence is a voice and video notes platform to digitize data acquisition using a structured ‘storyboard’ to guide the user. This user-friendly data capture is designed with seamless integration into enterprise systems, enhancing and replacing manual / text form fields that are the basis of most mobile field service or mobile CRM systems. Vyn then extracts the digital content using AI (speech to text, computer vision) to create actionable insights for the operations and the client engagement teams.
Sebastien - Why did Vyn want to work with ENGIE?
Vyn identified ENGIE as a company with strong field service workforce as well as an innovation momentum with digital leadership - perceiving ENGIE as an anchor client for field service digitization covering a variety of use cases in our customer solutions delivery in projects, recurrent services or asset-based services: site and asset surveys, asset repair, customer incident reporting, and Health and safety.
Partnering with ENGIE would allow Vyn to accelerate their efforts to deliver an enterprise grade platform and develop an ever-expanding list of services across different industries.
Nigel – So, why did ENGIE invest in Vyn? How do Vyntelligence fit into ENV’s strategy and for ENGIE’s strategy of digitalisation of our activities, in a wider sense?
Our investment rationale was as follows:
- Differentiator to sign large FM contracts and gain competitive edge in emerging FM on demand market. ENGIEs internal solutions today relies on pictures and the jump to video capture is a significant step
- Digitise ENGIE’s field data collection to make it more accurate and richer in content to be able to provide additional services to customers
Sebastien – Anything to add?
In addition to the operational efficiency gains from workflow integration in operational systems (Asset management, field service, CRM), the objective is to leverage the insights in the operations and asset life cycle. The data collected through smart video notes is also analyzed in ENGIE Common Data hub with our internal data science team to derive additional value harnessing ENGIE domain expertise.
Sebastien – In the UK, we are working on implementing the Vyn solution on our Transport for London (TfL) contract. What do you see as the immediate opportunities for Vyn?
Vyn solution is currently being tested in maintenance services for real estate customers (Hard FM) in France for asset repair with a first positive feedback from both field engineers and first line management. There are also new projects under review for other recurrent activities or for installation surveys to support the quotation process. The video note could reduce risk in estimation as well as have a positive impact for customers.
Nigel – Apart from the cash injection, what other benefits will Vyn receive?
ENGIE New Ventures (ENV) financial participation in any minority investment is never about the cash injection. ENV’s value as a corporate venture capital VC (rather than a pure financial VC) is about being a channel partner and bringing the start-ups it invests in pilot opportunities, contracts, access to new markets providing initial traction for them to continue their growth journey. Specifically for Vyn, the ENV investment allowed closer collaboration between different ENGIE BU’s and the development and applications for the energy services industry.
Nigel – Can you give us a little more info on the process of how an investment deal happens, and how long it typically takes?
ENV has a world-wide presence scouting markets such as the US, Europe, Israel and Asia with resources based in each of these locations providing a healthy Deal flow, typically numbering a few hundred different opportunities per year. This deal flow is then filtered and the companies that match a strategic interest for ENGIE are looked at more closely. We typically look at product market, start-up team and technology maturity and assess whether a company could be a match for ENGIE both in terms of strategic rationale and financial return. On the flip side, we also assess what benefits the ENGIE Group could bring to the start-up and if there is alignment between parties. Once these factors are looked and if they all line up then we go to the ENV investment committee and if approved we engage with the start-up and work through terms for a potential investment.
Nigel – So, what should our UK colleagues do if they discover a start-up that they think ENGIE should invest in? i.e. Who do they contact and what are the steps?
ENV is at the service of all the ENGIE BU’s to provide them with options for the future. For example, this can be an insight into future business models which are developing in a particular sector, but which are still immature, it can be an option to develop a new service or product for the BU or for ENGIE as a whole. The key point is that any potential investment fulfils a need for the BU, solves an existing or future problem that the BU’s see emerging in the coming 5-year window.
If a start-up fulfils one of these criteria then the BU can contact the ENV team, send us a deck and we can have an initial call to dig a little deeper and assess the start-up in more detail.
Nigel - Finally where can people find out more about all the companies ENGIE NV have invested in?