Learning expedition: innovation “to go”!

Many have said that the innovation ecosystem found in today’s Lisbon is reminiscent, in its dynamism and spirit, of what was happening in Berlin a few years ago. The Learning Expedition (LEX) by the winners of Société Générale’s Group Innovation Prize was a chance to explore this ecosystem on the ground, meet its leaders, see its flourishing start-ups and encounter some determined FinTech’s with firm ambitions.

Making a success of immersion

Hear the word “Lisbon” and the first thing that comes to mind is "tourism"... But to penetrate the ecosystem of Lisbon start-ups we needed to push on further, into the real workings of the city. But how to access this community?

We called on our partner OuiShare. This is a community of highly different people - entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, journalists, etc. - all working on the digital transition through its collaborative dimension. I see them as something like the consultants of tomorrow, on social transformation issues; experts in areas like smart cities, with all their urban and social complexity. The support of OuiShare – a trusted guide to the innovation community of Lisbon – gave us an inside track to the community. And we were most warmly welcomed.

Dive into the bath

For those taking part, immersion is very concrete: you make contacts, work in networks, start conversations. I have to say it worked rather well. And, reciprocally, we were able to show communities who have never taken the slightest interest in the banking and financial sector, men and women who also inject sense and creativity into what they do.

The most impressive bit for me was the Village Underground. Built out of containers and old buses its form is immediately striking...It is obviously a place that instils creativity in everyone who lives there. I am firmly convinced that architecture, design and radically different spaces change the way we think and work. And that is the whole idea behind our technopolis: Les Dunes.

Generating concrete ideas

The three components of a LEX are inspiration, creativity and, above all, a response to operational needs. Our winners start with specific concrete actions, which they will work out with OuiShare. What was the thing that most appealed to them? The economy of the OuiShare cooperative platforms or the credit risk AI programme James. This LEX is also a first step towards a closer relationship with the OuiShare community, particularly with the partnership with OuiShare Fest in Paris at the start of July.

By offering a LEX rather than another type of prize, we are testing what kind of results such immersion may yield. How do our employees benefit from this opening up and these conversations with innovative people from outside their traditional environment? What new ideas can their point of view generate? This last point is crucial. The aim of immersion is above all not to stop at the inspiration stage.

Immersion, inspiration, innovation: a winning formula

The whole point of a LEX is to make sure that participants are as open as possible and can benefit as much as possible from the immersion and come back with their heads full of new ideas and possibilities. At Société Générale, the drive is well under way: open up, immerse yourself, get inspired... innovate.

Published on March 2018

Immersion in Portugal’s Silicon Valley

Did you know that Lisbon has an impressive network of start-ups, incubators and coworking spaces? Discover the city’s extensive innovation ecosystem through our Learning expedition, alongside the OuiShare community and the winners of Societe Generale’s Group Innovation Awards.

Read the article