Renault Group

Station Flins, RE-FACTORY’s incubator, opens its doors

04 March 2021
6 min
It's official, Station Flins is born. Welcome to the innovation center of the regenerative economy by RE-FACTORY, where Groupe Renault and its partners will imagine and develop together a more sustainable mobility.
by Renault Group

It is 8:30 am when the 150 or so partners - startups, industrialists, researchers, trainers - gather for the official launch of Station Flins on Thursday 4 March. Although many of them are connected remotely, given the sanitary context, it is at the heart of RE-FACTORY in Flins near Paris that they will develop together innovative solutions based on the circular economy. By pooling the resources, technologies and knowledge of each, from this year onwards, the partners will be working on a number of RE-FACTORY projects: vehicle retrofitting, recycling of parts, materials and electric batteries, and training for new jobs emerging from the mobility of tomorrow.

Hind Arbaoui, Open Innovation Director, Groupe Renault, tells us more.  

Hind Arbaoui, directeur Open Innovation, Groupe Renault

What is behind the Station Flins concept? 

"It is a place for sharing resources and expertise between partners committed to building tomorrow's mobility. A greener and more sustainable mobility. To understand this, Station Flins must be placed in the context of RE-FACTORY, which is the first European circular economy site with the objective of being carbon-negative by 2030. When we worked on developing its economic model last year, it seemed obvious to us that the key to the success would be the implementation of an open innovation ecosystem. And a guarantee of speed in execution.  

As part of the RE-FACTORY Flins project, we have joined forces with Movin'On Lab, a "think and do" tank bringing together more than 300 mobility players. It therefore seemed natural to us to take them on board with us in the Station Flins adventure."

On which specific topics will you collaborate with the partners? 

"We have identified several of them which are at the heart of the RE-FACTORY business model and are represented within the four poles: RE-CYCLE, RE-ENERGY, RE-TROFIT and RE-START. 

From March 4th and the inauguration of Station Flins, we are starting to work very concretely on a selection of subjects relating to each of these clusters. 

For RE-TROFIT, we are going to look into ways of creating a competitive technical and economic offer for reconversion from thermal vehicles to EVs for the consumer market.  

On the RE-NERGY side, we are going to look into questions relating to the second life of batteries, for example: what new uses can we develop? Which ones make the most sense and which are the most profitable?  

For RE-CYCLE, our wish is to set up a marketplace of parts to be recycled. Within this marketplace, we will have to think about how we can optimize what goes in - i.e. maximize the collect of vehicles, carcasses and waste - and what goes out: identify the outlets for each part or material. We are currently in discussion with a startup, Inex, which has set up such a marketplace and which presents itself as the "Waste Tinder". They have a nice phrase that says: "One man's waste is another man's resource". And that's what we want to do in the end.  

One man's waste is another man's resource 

 Finally, as far as the RE-START center is concerned, we have decided to focus on training. Bearing the idea that in this reconversion project and beyond training on current jobs, we must also think about training programs for all the new jobs that will emerge with circular economy."

What will make Station Flins specific? 

"Today there are more than 300 accelerator/incubators. So it is quite legitimate to raise the question of Station Flins’ comparative advantage 

The first one is that Station Flins is at the center of RE-FACTORY, in other words at the heart of an industrial facility. We will be able to look for value together, and, above all, we will carry out permanent "test & learn" on site, "in vivo" as it were. For example, we are going to set up a garage - with 3D means - semi-industrial booths... We will be on the factory lines to industrialize new products... In other words, we will test together the technologies and processes linked to these new professions. 

The fact that we are situated in a factory immediately puts us in a concrete situation. With this incubator we offer a "unique package", which is to be involved in concrete projects that will have real applications in the field. Because if we need to dream, we also want to act. 

 Another strong point of Station Flins is that it is in the "blue ocean" zone (in reference to “The Blue Ocean Strategy). While the automobile industry is a beautiful red ocean, in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to find one's place with the intensity of competition, RE-FACTORY is a perfect example of the search for blue oceans, where everything remains to be created. 

With Station Flins, we will be able to test the technologies in vivo.

And finally, a third comparative advantage is the multi-corporate character claimed by Station Flins. Groupe Renault certainly initiated the incubator project, but once launched, it becomes an actor like any other. If we want to change things, if we want to succeed in turning the wheel in a significant way to switch to a new form of economy, the response must be systemic and massive. And to achieve this, we need a strong collective, where everyone brings their own contribution to the edifice. Together, we will invent new sectors, new value chains, and everyone will have to find their place in the process of co-innovation."

What they say about Station Flins 

«As a partner, we are supporting Groupe Renault in the co-design of the incubator. Our role is twofold. On the one hand, we are helping to build up the ecosystem in Flins, by drawing on our expertise in entrepreneurship, supporting young student entrepreneurs, start-ups and researchers. For example, we helped students from the Ecole des Mines in the creation of Yespark, a start-up specializing in parking space rental services. 

In addition, we are going to support the project through research. The PSL University brings together teams and researchers of exceptional quality, such as Jean-Marie Tarascon, a professor at the Collège de France and a specialist in solid and electrochemistry, particularly in the exploration of new battery technologies.  

Finally, as Groupe Renault, we are very committed to the issues of a sustainable world, which is a concern shared by our researchers and students. »  

Vice-President, Development, Innovation & Entrepreneurship,  Paris Sciences et Lettres University (PSL)  

« First, I would like to stress the fact that we are really proud and excited to join Station Flins and the whole movement Groupe Renault is launching around circular economy. Our mission at Betteries is to upcycle electric vehicle batteries to give them a second productive life of 3-10 years. We develop mobile, modular and multi-purpose energy storage systems and focus on developing countries, which are in crucial need of clean, reliable and affordable electricity. We are an impact driven business since our main goal is to fight climate change by avoidance of CO2 emissions of at least 1 million tons per year as of 2030. 

Clearly, Betteries second life storage systems are just a part of the battery circular value chain that goes from cradle to cradle. Our focus is to extend the usable for battery life as much as possible and assure that at the end of second life the batteries are recycled. As such we are 100% aligned with what Groupe Renault wishes to achieve with Refactory. We are dedicated to bringing fresh ideas, innovation and speed in that field, and Renault, clearly, will help us to scale fast.” 

Rainer HoenigFounder and Managing Director, Betteries 

« Groupe Renault's project is fully in line with Valeo's values and commitment to sustainable development and carbon neutrality. This initiative, to create a French ecosystem around the circular and regenerative economy, is both innovative and pioneering. It therefore seemed natural to us to respond positively to the call of the Renault Groupe and to join forces to take up this huge challenge. 

We believe in open innovation and collective intelligence. Thus, our teams will put all their energy into collaborating on projects to extend the life of products, to recycle materials and to provide training in eco-design. Together we will develop new business models in line with the needs of the market and society. 

The automotive industry has a great challenge to meet in order to achieve carbon neutrality. Our respective roles, as leaders in our industry, is to develop our ecosystem as a whole. » 

Geoffrey BouquotCTO & Group VP Strategy and External RelationsValeo 

 "With MOVIN'ON, we want to bring our experience of innovation within an ecosystem. The regenerative economy embodied by the Station Flins project essentially calls for collective intelligence and co-innovation. And the particularity of "ecosystem innovation" is that it goes far beyond the "extended enterprise". Indeed, with Station Flins, we are going to work on new subjects, with people we are not used to working with and who have cultures and innovation methodologies that are a priori very different. So, this is typically the kind of project for which MOVIN'ON can bring its expertise and experience. Our aim is to take advantage of this diversity, building on the singularity of each, while avoiding redundancy in every one of the communities of interest that have been formed.  

Today, we are more in a "DO Tank" than a "Think Tank" perspective. We want to come up with operational solutions for Flins, for Groupe Renault and for the players in the entire ecosystem. And Station Flins allows us to have a place where we can prototype, experiment and develop concrete cooperations while being at the heart of an industrial universe".  

Erik GrabMOVIN’ON Founder and activator 

Strategic Anticipation & Co-Innovation Vice - President - MICHELIN Group 


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