Defining an innovation strategy to capture future value with Engie

Challenge

Enable ENGIE’s APAC Management to understand where value will sit in the future of its business, and how to position its operating companies in APAC to capture it.

Solution

Together with the leaders of ENGIE’s multiple operating companies across APAC, we first developed a data-backed innovation strategy that underpins innovation efforts in the region, then executed a portfolio of venture builds and commercial pilots with startups.

Impactful innovation across diverse operating entities

With an APAC business that spans multiple operating companies across a diverse range of countries, embedding an appropriate and impactful innovation strategy across the region was no small task for ENGIE.

The emergence of influential new business models and technologies impacts different parts of the company’s business in very different ways, so a strong analytical foundation was required to create an innovation strategy that was both cogent and commercially impactful.

When ENGIE launched its new strategic innovation function in APAC – the ENGIE Factory – it turned to Rainmaking to develop this strategy. Over the course of 3 months, we conducted deep diligence into the emerging business model and technology innovation causing value shifts in power generation, retail and facilities management. Our extensive research gave rise to crucial data-backed insights as to where value was moving, which in turn allowed ENGIE to craft an Innovation Thesis, identifying opportunity spaces where it would seek to capture value in the future.
With the innovation strategy in place, we then brought it to life by executing multiple growth engines targeting both long-term and more immediate horizons of impact.

 

Digging into the startup data

To create the Innovation Thesis that would act as a filter and focus when developing innovation initiatives for the ENGIE Factory, we first needed to synthesise the ‘weak signals’ offered by emerging, Series A+ startups, so as to understand evolution and shifts in value in the industry.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of the actual and expected impact of emerging, later-stage startups, along with prevailing macro-trends, we worked collaboratively with ENGIE APAC Management to identify a portfolio of the most impactful and relevant areas of opportunity where value is most likely to be captured in the future.

This thesis as to where value will sit is directly led by emerging business model and technology disruption that manifests through clusters of activity, strength and absence of startups globally.

 

Generating commercial impact through collaboration with startups

Once we had created the innovation strategy, we sourced and diligenced mature, commercially impactful startups to embark on a ‘Collaborate’ portfolio of 15 separate pilots with ENGIE, which were structured and executed across a diverse range of focus areas.

The commercial pilots we run with ENGIE target demonstrable commercial impact, and link directly to the opportunity spaces and execution pathways that were identified during the strategy phase of the project.

 

Venture building to take ownership of untapped opportunities

In the case of some areas of opportunity, disruption in the market is less mature, allowing for more time to build the organisational capabilities required to win in this space. In these areas, we support ENGIE to establish a ‘Compete’ portfolio, and are building ventures from the ground up, startup-style.

In a startup studio setting, we harness the strengths and unfair advantages offered by ENGIE’s size, scale and market positioning, teaming them with the agility, entrepreneurialism and rapid iteration offered by entrepreneurs and venture builders.

 

Commitment to competence building

Having seen the difference our methodology and strategy development processes make, we seek to embed the capability to run innovation strategy and growth initiatives in parallel with BAU. To support this upskilling, we also run training sessions and innovation workshops relating to topics such as Business Model Innovation and lean startup methodology for ENGIE’s OpCos across APAC.