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20/06/2024 News

Encouraging students to innovate and create projects

TotalEnergies partners Pionniers, a new Open Innovation program proposed to student engineers, designers and business school students by Le Connecteur in Biarritz

The managers of Le Connecteur in Biarritz intend to act as a cultural, educational, economic and scientific catalyst in their region, based on a wealth of programs, workshops, conferences, and so on. That’s how the Pionniers program was kicked off, an initiative that aims to make students rack their brains on an innovative corporate project. The specific combination of study programs including engineering, design and business, to produce innovative solutions, appealed to TotalEnergies. As did the fact that this kind of initiative enables young people to acquire new skills, tackle entrepreneurial constraints, create a network and build their own professional experience. As partner of the open innovation operation, TotalEnergies, via its Booster, suggested looking into: How can sustainability criteria be incorporated into purchase decisions in the Company’s renewable energies activity?

Students from l’Estia, the engineering school in the Basque country, from the design department of the Landes Campus in Mont-de-Marsan, and the École supérieure de commerce de Pau (now the Eklore-ed Group) worked in immersion in groups of three for two months.

Extremely motivated by the program objectives, Nicolas Petit, head of the TotalEnergies Booster in Pau, is used to networking with external partners on the entire spectrum of topics related to innovation. What’s his aim with Pionniers? "For students to find something that wouldn’t even have crossed our minds inhouse, something slightly disruptive, but useful to the entire Company," he explains.

On the program were eight intensive weeks, paced by training sessions on innovation, given by the IRIIG (International Research Institute for Innovation and Growth), master classes led by players from the world of innovation (Marion Woirhaye – Wikicampers, Brice Giguet – Voltaire Group, etc.) and workshops to help the competitors move forward on their projects. The group of students that chose to work on the theme put forward by the Company, were supported by two TotalEnergies employees over the two months, to help structure the project, and then channel it, after an ideation phase devoted to resolving the issue. The different student groups "prototyped" their solutions either digitally or through models built using specific software, or by using functional physical prototypes, to help everyone understand how their product worked, and its added value. To round off their two-month period, the students were able to pitch their projects to a large audience in the Connecteur auditorium. Local press was also present.

Les différents collectifs d’élèves ont « prototypé » leurs solutions soit de façon digitale par l’intermédiaire de maquettes réalisées avec des logiciels spécifiques, soit via des prototypes physiques fonctionnels permettant ainsi à tous de comprendre le fonctionnement et la valeur ajoutée de leurs produits. Pour clôturer leurs parcours, tous les étudiants ont eu le plaisir de pouvoir pitcher leurs projets devant une belle assemblée réunie dans l’auditorium du Connecteur en présence de la presse locale.

"At the end of the day, we witnessed some wonderful interactions among the students, training instructors, inspiring pitchers and project pilots from the entrepreneurial sector. The students were delighted to have been given the opportunity to test their enthusiasm for innovation, and the companies were given a sneak preview of the talent of their potential future hires, while learning about new solutions. What more could we ask for?" concludes Nicolas Petit.