Tag Archive | France

Mittelstand Innovation: focus, frugal and efficient


The medium-sized companies are becoming fashionable. Helping the crisis, their long-term vision has transformed these organizations ideal company. They are called innovative but ultimately knows how badly it is organized in this area. Analysis.

Do you know the “Global Niche players”? These businesses, often family, who managed to impose itself on the world market by cultivating excellence in a very specific area. This category is called the Mittelstand in Germany or ETI  (midsize) in France, all show a system very similar values. They cultivate the art of long-term independence (including financial), love of work well done and are very attached to the mastery of skills (they prefer when it is “homemade”).

These “guidelines” have clearly shaped the culture of innovation in these companies. Several things make it unique compared to large groups. Highly specialized, these companies focus, for example, their efforts in R & D technology and a single. This feature could be deadly but instead stimulates the creativity of the teams. These last are always looking for new uses, new developments to expand the scope of the technology.

Develop performance for the customer

Management “good father” of these companies also impacts the way we consider the return on investment in innovation. Financing capacity is limited, ensure all develop applications more than concepts. SNF, a polymer specialist based in Saint-Étienne (France) providing chemical solutions including hydraulic fracturing, this “constraint” requires chemists to house state of the art scientific literature before making their new polymer and complete the project in six months to prove the concept.

This very applied creativity also requires businesses to include the end user of their product very early in the design. The goal is not to co-develop but to understand what competitive advantages they expect the products they sell them. Rational, a German manufacturer of kitchen equipment group, sells its customers ovens and cooking systems but places great emphasis on saving space that allows for innovation in the kitchen.

How Harrys made ​​fortune with the bread without crust

Harrys 4

Innovation and research have allowed the Barilla Group, owner of Harrys, resist own brands on the shelves.

For the third time in ten years, the Barilla Group (Italy), owner of Harrys brand, expanding its specialized in bread without crust factory located near Lyon (France). Guido Barilla, chairman of the Italian group, came in person to launch the production line on June 4. This investment of € 14 million will enable the brand leader of bread in France, producing 24 million packages per year of what has become the fastest growing segment of the market: “100% crumb” whose sales rose 15% last year. “Whenever we have increased our production capacity we quickly saturated,” says Giovanni Palopoli, director of operations for Barilla Western Europe.

Technical prowess

The story is like a fairy tale business. In 2005, when redeemed Harrys Barilla brand, created in 1960 by a baker from Châteauroux (Indre, France), the idea of ​​bread without crust was like a joke. A bit like Emmental without holes. But the Italian really believed, because “this was already a success in the Spanish market,” says Miloud Benaouda, CEO of Barilla France. Better, it could allow the brand to take advantage of packaged breads sold under white labels and low price, which nibbled the French market.
Remained in control in manufacturing, because this seemingly innocuous innovation required technical prowess. Indeed, once removed the crust, bread, less rigid, it becomes difficult to decide on the production line. Hence the idea – protected by a patent – to reduce sharply the temperature of the bread after it leaves the oven to stiffen, to better decide.

Success was quick, worn by children, used to cut the strip of fat around the ham or remove the rind before eating. The bread seemed designed for them, and television campaigns, putting children on stage, was confirmed. The brand also invests heavily in communication: it generates for 80% of advertising spending in its market.

Harrys did not stay alone for long in this segment is booming. Jacquet (Limagrain Group, France) has released its free crust, called “Bloody Mie”, which uses a different method of manufacture. “This is a unique process, says does one competitor in the Harrys, without removing the crust and thus without waste. Patent of this invention is applied globally. Helps reduce material losses and the first cooking time. ” The challenger uses a steaming which avoids the formation of a brown crust. For connoisseurs, the “Bloody Mie” Jacquet has a white crust well and can not be considered without a crust. Difficult to decide.

Successful segmentation

To keep ahead in the race for innovation, Harrys under-segmented bread without crust market by launching the 100% brioche bread, wholemeal bread, bread pudding, 7-grain, long shelf … A fee activism: industrial holds its competitors and white labels at a distance and keep the consumer preference. While the French market classical sandwich bread rose by only 2.4% and is dominated by white labels (44.5%), that of “no crust” grew 15% in volume in twelve months, and Harrys dominates, with nearly 60% of sales.

How to innovate to reduce discrimination against women


Is there really a discrimination again women?

The film shows what kind of images are showed by some commercial medias. The film showed American medias but in all industrialize countries, we can found these movies that gives this women’s vision.

Beyond medias, is there really some discriminations against women, and especially in industrialised countries ? Simple fact allows us to see the evidence; in Europe, in Russia and Australia, Women are less paid from 17% in comparison with Men, in United States 19%, in UK 21%, in Japan 33% and in Korea 38%. There is no country without any discrimination against women but Scandinavian and New Zealand countries have low discriminations.

But there are other discriminations that have higher consequence.

What are the ratio of Women who have Top Board responsibility?

The best, in Norway, 39% of Board seats are attributed to Women. In USA, 15,7%, in France, 12,7%, in UK, 12,5% and in Germany 11,2%. In the BRICST countries, Brazil, 5,1%, Russia 5,9%, India 5,3%, China 8,5%, South Africa 15,8% and Turkey 10,8%.

Women managers are 20% less paid that men in France; average salary discrimination is around 17% for all categories of Women jobs. Higher the level in the hierarchy is, higher the inequality is.

Anyway, progress is there but the equality will be long to obtain in the current trend…

In 1980, 25% of managers were female; in 2010, 38%.

25% of worldwide countries have legal restrictions on women’s right to work. There is some reductions of restrictions, decade after decade.

Around the world, almost 20% of national parliamentary seats are now occupied by women, up from 17.2% five years ago.

It will take more than 50 years in the current trend to reduce completely the discrimination against women. Can we accelerate the trend? It is up to all of us, women and men to be informed and to make some concrete actions to reduce them.

Check this very interesting blog with a lot of statistics about women’s discrimination


Brain Computer Interface: what’s that?


Control by thought

Using sensors, the brain can control computer programs. These man-machine interfaces are developed, and their operation reveals a huge potential.

Control games by thought, be able to walk in a virtual world just by imagining his movements make clear the blurred image of a screen just by focusing: it is no longer science fiction but the real science today. And perhaps these brain-computer (or BCI for “Brain Computer Interfaces”) interfaces become commonplace tomorrow.

How to control a computer by thought? For simplicity, it is necessary to capture the brain activity and translate it into computer program.

An electrode encased helmet charge capture electrical signals in the brain, as in the case of electroencephalography. Software will then translate these signals into computer commands. This is precisely what the Open Source software performs OpenVibe, developed by a team at INRIA, french research institute (France).

The accuracy of helmets clad electrode

This software can be downloaded free and ready to use, will specifically be responsible to acquire the signal, but also clean and classify before translating. “The fewer sensors have less signal quality will be good. Because there may be noise will interfere with the signal. Other electrical signals can indeed come face or the outside …” said Anatole Lecuyer, director of research at the Inria in charge of OpenVibe project. Helmets with few electrodes will be less accurate and their potential clamped.

This does not prevent some companies currently developing simple bands, barely visible as Google Glass, supposed to allow control by thought.

Learning software

Under the control of thought, another limitation may appear during the learning phase because the software requires calibration. It is comparable to that of voice recognition technology learning, requiring the user speaks before recognize and understand his voice. Here it is, for example, start making hand movements, so that the corresponding electrical signals in the brain can be recorded before being recognized.

Consequence: it is then possible to make the same movement of the hand, or … simply imagine. This is why some people may not exercise such control “imaginary activity” because they will not be able to “imagine” the movements correctly.

Like buttons on a controller of video game


For others, an imagined movement may therefore correspond to a command. Thus, it is possible to combine one, two or all three orders of imaginary movements. As if it were a joystick buttons. The OpenVibe technology has also demonstrated several years ago that it was possible in a virtual world, to move in several directions only by thought, although exercise can be tiring in the long run.

OpenVibe team was also able to work with the video game industry to develop more games, and even a serious game. This “serious game” worked through a slightly different process: the more the player is focused on a fuzzy screen, the image of the screen became clear. “This game can therefore quite used to learn to focus and channel attention. What, for example, help children with hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder,” said Anatole Lécuyer.

In this serious game based on OpenVibe, when the player is focused, the image and sound of the video projected on the far right become sharper.

The medical sector is also one of the outlets OpenVibe project, in addition to the gaming industry. A sapling after Inria Mensia Technology , has already launched in medical applications enables the OpenVibe technology. The latter can indeed be used for therapeutic purposes but also for the well-being it provides or the brain training, to resolve tensions, sleep disorders, or learning to relax …

Today and tomorrow

OpenVibe code is available as open source. Therefore difficult to know the purpose, but it is now possible to find on the Internet helmets fifteen sensors for less than 200 euros. There are also games already available on the Web working with such helmets. Moreover, the principle of Open Source, open Open Vibe code has external contributions, which allows him especially today being enriched the necessary drivers for new helmets coming on the market.

And tomorrow? The technology will she one day mature enough, for example, replace a computer mouse? “We’re not there yet, the mouse movements on the screen are not accurate enough,” slice clearly Anatole Lecuyer, who admits that the scientific research and publications in this area are experiencing exponential growth in recent years.

More details

1. Openvibe software from INRIA: http://openvibe.inria.fr/

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Google Glass: where we are ?

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass is a mobile solution that could replace SmartPhones. Google is thinking to put it on the market in 2014. These glasses are displaying information from Internet superimposed on the classical view which is a solution respecting the principle of augmented reality.

First video explaining the concept (2012)

The film shows the concept before the finalization of the prototype.

Last video presenting v1 of Glass (2013)

The film shows first version of Google Glasses with current Apps in situation.

Functions of Google Glass

Google Glass includes a processor, a flash memory, a battery, a photo camera / video camera, one speaker, two microphones, a wireless antenna, Bluetooth and an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a compass. Google Glass does not have 3G modem, so you have to connect the phone to the glasses via Bluetooth to communicate and surf the internet.

They include most of the features offered by Google: Calendar, SMS / MMS, GPS, camera, email, etc.. These commands can be activated by voice through voice recognition. A small trackpad located on a branch of Google Glass scroll pages eg to move from a menu. You can also control the scroll pages or click nodding.

Specifically, to use these glasses, you have nothing to do, or just talk to them!

  • Say “take a picture” to immediately take a picture
  • You can record what you are seeing
  • These photos or videos can be shared with friends / contacts
  • Get a GPS guide your route directly super
  • Record an audio message to send
  • Ask an encyclopedic information
  • Get an instant translation of a phrase that you dictate
  • Get information without even asking

See how to use Google Glass: http://worldofinnovations.net/2013/05/09/google-glasses/

Other french products in preparation

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April 2013: Stats of WorldOfInnovations.net


Global overview

For the first month, 623 pages have been viewed and 385 unique visitors have seen WorldOfInnovations.net website. The visitors come from 53 different countries.

Top views by country

% calculated in comparison of pages viewed.

1. France: 193 (31%)
2. United States: 149 (24%)
3. UK: 33 (5%)
4. Japan: 27 (4.5%)
5. Canada: 13 (2%)
6. India: 13 (2%)
7. Germany: 13 (2%)
8. Colombia: 13 (2%)
9. Netherlands: 11 (2%)
10. Pakistan: 11 (2%)

Top pages viewed

% calculated in comparison of pages viewed.

1. Home page & archives: 250 (40%)
2. Q1 2013 Tablets stats: 33 (5%)
3. Babolat: 33 (5%)
4. Top Internet Browsers: 30 (5%)
5. How to innovate with social media: 26 (4%)

Top sites which referrer

% calculated in comparison of unique visitors.

1. Google: 87 (23%)
2. Bing: 29 (7.5%)
3. Yahoo: 24 (6.2%)
4. Twitter: 21 (5.5%)
5. LinkedIn: 19 (5%)
6. WebCrawler: 17 (4.4%)
7. WordPress: 14 (3.6%)
8. Blogger.com: 6 (1.5%)
9. Facebook: 3 (0.75%)

Fermob: to innovate & to internationalize


In April, Reybier Bernard, CEO of Fermob, returning from the Milan Furniture Fair, the Mecca of designer furniture. For fifteen years, the company exhibits his collections. But beyond the commercial present on its stand, four people in-house design studio and house technicians have turned down the aisles, camera in hand. They came back with eight cents for tracking shots in this world high creative talents and lines tomorrow concentration. Because the value of Fermob, one of the pillars of its development, the bold design of its furniture.

Iron, a source of creativity

Bernard Reybier bought in 1989 the company installed Thoissey in Ain, a region of France. It manufactures furniture iron since 1953 and reduced to a workshop of 10, suffers from devastating competition from plastic. “What interested me was the whole creativity induced by a material such as iron. From the outset, the design has become an added value. ” This choice requires collaboration with external designers. Pascal Mourgue, one of the most industrial designers French side, who had already signed in 1983 the chair Silvermoon long collaborated with Fermob. Patrick in June also with the chair Facto 1998. Off to the Fair of Milan, Bernard Reybier also identified Harald Guggenbiechler who signed new models … We understand that sees pioneer, immersing themselves in exhibitions, competitions schools, to find “new blood.” However, its position in respect of departure: simple lines, accessible and non-statutory. What state in the time an image and brand.

Fermob has revolutionized the furniture

Around its internal design studio, Bernard Reybier also ensures look of a “broader creative sphere” involving fifteen engineers, technicians and marketing experts. The creative dimension inscribed in the DNA of the brand also involves the color. In 1996, Fermob upsets the small world of furniture, confined to green or white, featuring lime green, tangerine and vanilla. Then come poppy, black, eggplant … When in 2000, retailers (garden centers, stores, outdoor furniture specialists) bristle at the fuchsia, education and determination are needed to convince. Accompany, build loyal relationships with their network is actually a prerequisite for getting this message condition for innovation.

No place in supermarket

“Innovation must be backed by distributors, there must be arguments. That’s why from the beginning I took Fermob circuit supermarkets, there was no place. ” This commitment also requires accepting the risk and failure. In 1993, “Tutti Frutti” chair becomes, against all expectations, a commercial failure. And it will only fall 2012, two years late, that can be marketed chair Andrée Putman: some elements were found defective, not meeting the specifications require that the manufacturer is required.

12,000 chairs in the streets of New York

This approach leads quickly to the international Fermob. In 2012, the company exports 44% of its total turnover (35 million euros in 2011) to 36 countries, including the United States and Germany, two countries attractive for manufacturers of French furniture.

The strategy involves investing consistently and persistently country, mostly through trade shows, before turning to another: “We have to wait three years to be profitable.” The manufacturer has indeed in its catalog folding chair “Bistro” with lines dating from the nineteenth or mythical chair the Luxembourg Gardens reinterpreted in 2004 by Frederic Sofia. In late April, Bernard took off for New York Reybier for a project to store the sign.

These outlets exclusively Fermob, apply only a few very large cities in leading countries. After Paris, Munich, Cologne, New York was required. Established for fifteen years in Atlanta through a sales office, a meeting Fermob marked overseas and particularly in New York success: 12,000 chairs made in Ain discover in public parks, along the streets .. . Bistro chairs deployed in Bryant Park on behalf of the foundation kicked off this American onslaught.

Market season

This company operates in a free market world leader, but each geographical area has given rise to a leader, a potential competitor. Beyond its design and its “French touch”, the company relies on the “environmental” aspect to compete. The industrial process claims to “zero waste” Bistro chair is recyclable to 30%, “These arguments are,” according to the CEO. Remains a major challenge: the production for an outdoor environment knows the vagaries of seasonality: do not miss the boat on sunny days.

This requires an ultra fine control of deadlines and therefore production, and also justifies this production is integrated: it is one of the major pillars of the development strategy. However, the challenge becomes more complex for further afield. To invest more heavily in the Asia-Pacific region, where it makes a small percentage of 3% export, the company has signed an industrial partnership with a Chinese. Part of the range will be manufactured locally from a tool for the design which Fermob teams competed. Besides export Fermob turns to the professional market to diversify its business, and fits the standards of the hospitality industry. Today, this pillar represents nearly a third of its sales, and helps to balance its growth.

Fermob, whose capital is held overwhelmingly by Bernard Reybier, strongly embodies through him. He laid the groundwork for its development, inscribed in stone and its basic door again. He built a company of 200 people, located in rural areas and low turnover in its management of human resources. This strong incarnation can still be a source of weakness as leaving little room for others and ultimately threatening the sustainability of the company. Bernard Reybier is well aware that recently surrounded himself with two assistant general managers. He now wants to devote himself mainly to development. Without releasing his hunt for the design, his personal brand.

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Innovation at school: combining Robotics With Poetry?


In 2013, French government is trying to find a way to push France to be more innovative. France is considered a moderately innovative country in Europe (see more details with the previous article TOP4 Leaders in Europe). French government is focusing on education aspect: how to infuse the spirit of innovation at school?

Art and Engineering Can Co-Exist

At the beginning, people thought she was nuts. Sue Mellon, working in United States, gifted support coordinator for Springdale Junior and Senior High/Colfax School in the Allegheny Valley School District, thought 7th and 8th graders could develop a deeper understanding of poetry by playing around with robotics.

“Originally, people looked at me like I was crazy,” Mellon said. Now, two years later, Robotics Poetry is a staple of language arts classes at Springdale and a new grant has students preparing to be peer mentors.

Poetry isn’t always easy for students. But with hands-on engagement, they gain new understanding. Take Robert Frost’s “Pasture.” Instead of just reading and discussing the work in a typical classroom setting, students made 21st-century dioramas with robotic tool kits containing sensors, motors, LEDs, and a controller. One student made a blue plastic wrap lake in an old cardboard photocopy-paper box that vibrated, thanks to the motor, and, lit up, thanks to the LED. When the student said the word “water”—students record themselves reading the poems aloud in the audio-editing program Audacity—the LED turned the plastic wrap a deeper shade of blue. When he got to the bit about the “tottering” calf, the motor made the toy calf vibrate.

Critical for Innovation

The move to include art and design in the push to advance science, engineering, and math is not just a “feel-good” move. It’s critical to the future economy and families’ standard of living. Researchers are finding that although children’s IQ scores have been steadily rising, results on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking—a key measure of creativity—have been on the decline since 1990, just as the demand for more creative thinkers is rising. In a 2010 IBM survey, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as a top leadership competency of the future.

At a professional development event for local superintendents, the participants had all read Daniel Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind,” and then Pink came in to discuss the importance of creativity. An executive director of state agency that support the Sue Mellon’s school, spoke to the participants about the importance of “right-brain qualities” like empathy and inventiveness. “The message was loud and clear, and that’s when the movement started. Being strong in math and science wasn’t enough. To meet future workforce needs, we had to address the whole-brain needs of our students.”

See more details on original article


Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its strategy


Innovation at the heart of the strategy

The manufacturer of building materials Lafarge intends to place “innovation at the heart of his strategy”, said the group’s CEO Bruno Lafont, who wants to reach 450 million to innovation of the period 2012-2015.

This objective should be achieved one year ahead in 2014, he confirmed in a press conference devoted to programs of research and innovation group.

“The challenge is to move from being a material manufacturer to a provider of solutions for the construction”, he added. “We are in acceleration phase”, assured the CEO.

Innovation budget to be increased by 2.5

In 2012, the Group recorded € 80 million related to innovation and target in 2013 200 million.

In this context, new products, offers and services expected to account for 60% growth, 40% is related to business improvement and new market segments,

The Group has strengthened its presence in emerging markets, which in 2012 accounted for 59% of its sales totaled, against 32% in 2005. Lafarge has also made a refocusing its activities on heart of business: cement (66% of sales), concrete and aggregates (34%).

In its 2012-2015 strategic plan announced last year, Lafarge aims to generate 1.75 billion euros thanks to cost reductions ($ 1.3 billion) and development innovations (475 million).

The group aims to increase sales due to innovation in this period of “more than one billion,” said Mr. Lafont.

Building Better Cities

To mark the strategic development, Lafarge has adopted a new slogan: “Building Better Cities” to focus on technological improvements, environmental, targeting both mature markets as emerging markets.

The group wants to meet the expected trend of urbanization. In 2050, nearly 70% of the world population (expected to reach 9 billion people) will live in cities, against more than 50% today, according to Lafarge.

The group wants to grow especially in the “special concretes” (self-compacting concrete, fiber, decontaminating or draining): he wants to reach 45% of its concrete volumes in 2015 with these products immovants against third now.

Lafarge in 2012 spent some 118 million euros in R & D will remain at the same level this year, said Mr Lafont.

The group opened in the last 18 months three new development laboratories in France, China and India, and will continue this year with Algeria and Brazil. The goal is to have 10 such centers by 2015.

Post based on this article

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Why uncreative companies survive?


We Don’t Want to Innovate!

“Creativity? What’s that? I don’t want my people to be creative”, said the owner and CEO of a very successful company. About ten years later his company, an important financial services company, has grown very profitably and it is still doing very well.

We often say that today companies have no option but innovate or die. Yet why do some uncreative organizations survive and even do well?

There are no competitors

Monopolies can flourish for many different reasons – regulation, small market size, government control. But also some monopolies have produced incredible innovation: NASA landing man on the moon, the state health system of Germany and France. Many have succeeded in prolonging stagnation. The catholic church took hundreds of years after incontrovertible proof was provided to accept that the earth revolves around the sun, and it did so only when science became perceived as a true competitor to religious dogma.

Competitors are even less innovative

“The one-eyed man reigns in the kingdom of the blind” goes an old Greek saying. Or, as some have said in the modern conference room, when a bear is chasing you and your friend, you don’t need to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend. Being slightly innovative when most others are entirely uncreative does indeed give a competitive edge. And for a variety of reasons some sectors/countries/niches etc are clearly slower to change than others. In these cases companies are clearly “getting away” with little or no innovation. The question is for how long?

Innovation works well at one level only

While the full innovation potential of an organization may not be realized, it is quite possible that it is or has been by design or default quite innovative at some time and place. The case of pharmaceutical companies with brilliant product innovation in spite of unimaginative marketing comes to mind. Or the opposite where brilliantly innovative marketers sell products that leave much to be desired.

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