Total unveils 2nd edition of Plant 4.0 start-up incubator with five partners

Buoyed by the success of the Plant 4.0 start-up incubator launched in 2016, Total decided to repeat the experience, this time opening up the project to include other industry partners, on the narrower theme of innovative solutions offered by IIoT.

This is the very first multi-corporate Plant 4.0 start-up incubator in the world.
This is the very first multi-corporate Plant 4.0 start-up incubator in the world.

Total today launched its second Plant 4.0 start-up incubator, joined this year by Air Liquide, AREVA, Eiffage, Solvay and VINCI Energies.

This is the very first multi-corporate Plant 4.0 start-up incubator in the world. The common goal of the partners is to accelerate the deployment of digital technology in industry.

Buoyed by the success of the Plant 4.0 start-up incubator launched by Total in 2016, the Group decided to repeat the experience, this time opening up the project to include other industry partners, on the narrower theme of innovative solutions offered by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

This open innovation approach aims to identify the start-ups that offer practical, relatively mature industrial solutions to meet specialised operational requirements. The fledgling companies can test their technology, product or service directly with their potential customers and are put in contact with the incubator’s manufacturing partners and their start-up ecosystems. Total and the other partners will also share their expertise with the successful candidates.

With the spread of sensors and new developments in data collection and management, innovative solutions can improve the efficiency and boost the performance of plants and different industries. This international call for projects focuses on connected objects in industry in four areas: (1) acoustic detection of leaks or anomalies; (2) corrosion monitoring; (3) non-invasive flow measurement; and (4) manual valve position displays.

“Total works in an open innovation process with start-ups and manufacturing partners because we all face the same challenges. Building digital solutions together speeds up their deployment in our plants and industrial facilities,” said Gilles Cochevelou, chief digital officer, Total. “Digital tech improves safety and efficiency, while reducing costs. It offers a world of opportunities and could increase competitiveness in industry and for start-ups,” added Cochevelou.

For the first incubator, all industrial digital tech fields were covered by Total, from robotics, transportation, IoT, cybersecurity and remote diagnostics to augmented reality, drones and artificial intelligence. Out of 150 submissions, 24 start-ups were shortlisted and nine selected for incubation periods of about six months. Total introduced streamlined processes for collaboration with the start-ups, for example by having a single contact person. Proofs of concept (pilots) were conducted at production facilities and some of the start-ups continue to work with Total today.

"Our involvement in the ‘Plant 4.0’ incubator reflects our Digital Transformation strategy, whose management of ecosystems is a major axis," underlines Olivier Delabroy, VP – digital transformation, Air Liquide. "The relationships we have built and continue to enhance with start-ups are a critical part of our open innovation approach. It is a long-term, partnership-based approach aiming at accelerating innovation and our digital transformation, focused on usages and design, serving the customer experience. This proximity with start-ups helps us to increase our agility and to reinforce the expertise required to carry out projects in various fields, including IoT. In this respect, we look forward to joining this incubator that Total is opening for the first time to external partners," added Delabroy.

“Industry 4.0 concepts, including IoT, are the first pillar of our digital transformation programme. We have over three years of experience with Open Innovation and are very pleased with the results. For New AREVA, joining the Plant 4.0 incubator is in line with this and reflects our willingness to enhance our involvement in industrial collaboration programmes,” commented Jean-Luc Delcuvellerie, digital transformation programme manager, New AREVA.

“The participation in Total's ‘Plant 4.0’ incubator with key industrial players is a way for Eiffage to work within a strong dynamic of open innovation, on the issues already identified. The pool of qualified start-ups and the identified uses will allow us to support the deployment of digital technologies in our industrial activities to improve our performance, also accompanying the Group itself in the digital transformation” stated Valérie David, sustainable development and transversal innovation director, Eiffage.

"The teaming up of this group of industrial companies with specialised start-ups will help to efficiently identify and address the digital needs of the industry. The cutting-edge solutions these start-up companies can bring will accelerate the digital revolution that will transform our industrial sites," remarked Alain Faessler, general manager – industrial, Solvay Group.

Olivier Albessard, brand director, Actemium, the VINCI Energies brand dedicated to the industrial process, observed: "Partnering with start-ups and niche experts allows agility, creativity and a degree of solutions customisation that accelerate our capacity to design innovative offers for the industry of the future. We develop our ability to respond as well as our relevance, while the start-up conquers difficult markets to reach on her own. Our contribution to the Total incubator, one of our major industrial partners, will allow us to go even further in this operational approach of co-innovation, improving the industrial performance of our client.”

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