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Michelin China: Making the roads a safer place

Sustainable mobility

Two of the startups accompanying ENGIE to CES in January will be presented by the Michelin incubator in China. We spoke to Michelin China's Digital Project Manager, XIA Feiyang.

Q: Can you briefly introduce Michelin's Chinese incubator?

Of course. Our mission is to deliver new, profitable business ideas in fields close to Michelin's core businesses. We incubate both internal Michelin initiatives and external startups, in partnership with HAX, an accelerator located in Shenzhen and San Francisco. We also invest in startups when their products or services synergize with our activities in transport and connected mobility.

Q: You were at CES 2017. Was it a success for you?

It was very good. We made a lot of contacts in the USA, including investors who are ready to make a deal if we can meet their requests; for example a detector of the effects of cannabis, based on the principle of the Alcohol Monitoring System we presented. So last year, we discovered unexpected possibilities. Also, it was interesting to experience the American business scene. 

In China, there is often a lot of eating and drinking going on at the same time as business discussions; in the US, things tend to be more professional – and more complicated!

Q: And any developments since 2017?

Absolutely. The AMS hardware and software presented last year is now on the market, and currently used by 7000 bus drivers. This is a real milestone. And negotiations are underway with the Chinese government and the Shenzhen Fuel Company for 1000 further units.

Q: What will you be showing at CES 2018?

Michelin China will be presenting two startup projects: One is Steering AI, with a system to anticipate driver fatigue; the other is a tyre inspection robot.

Q: And what do you expect from your participation at CES with ENGIE?

Firstly, the opportunity to communicate about what we are doing. Hopefully, to inspire people to believe in our team and try the service. CES is also the opportunity for Michelin to highlight its innovation potential in the mobility sector. And both the startups we are presenting offer products and services which make driving safer: we are proud of that.

Q: What is the most significant innovation for you (of all time) and why?

Every project is different: different scenarios, different requirements, different people. So I think I would say that the most significant innovation is what we might call the 'Initiative Attitude'. For each project, it is essential to go deep down and discover people's basic level, the real user: talk to them, and feel what they feel directly. It can take a long time. 

If you don’t have the right initiative attitude, you will miss the information that is the basis of everything, you won’t see the sensitive point clearly, and you could miss the market.

Source: Martyn Crossland

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