Blue Ocean Awards 2019: Celebrating Innovation
On November 7, the sixth annual Blue Ocean Awards were held at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Created in 2014 by Axessio Innovation Strategy, the Ministry for the Economy and Finance and HEC Paris, the awards recognize French businesses that create new markets and innovative products. Once again, HEC projects were prominent among the awards list.
The annual awards are inspired by the bestselling book Blue Ocean Strategy, written by researchers W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, which proposes a strategy for innovation through Value, allowing businesses to create a new business by occupying uncontested market space. Candidates compete in five different categories, including the ‘Legends’ chosen by a public ballot held on the day of the prize-giving, whilst the others are determined by a jury. “The jury uses the principles of Blue Ocean Strategy to analyze the business performance,” explains Alban Eral, Director of strategy and innovation at Axessio and Blue Ocean Awards founder, “This includes the ability of the company to create a new market, the Ocean Blue type of market, which attracts non-clients.” This year, there were 400 entries, whittled down to 13 finalists. For the first time, two awards ceremonies took place in real time, one in Paris, the second in Bordeaux, putting the spotlight on the creation of new business markets in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. This, according to Eral, is , “one of the most dynamic regions in terms of concrete innovation.”
The evening opened with a video message from Renée Mauborgne herself, who wished all of the finalists luck for their future endeavors. This was not the only intervention of the evening from further afield, as the ceremonies were live streamed across social media channels, allowing for questions from the audience. The simultaneous ceremonies demonstrated the growth of the awards over the last six years, and the commitment of the founding members to supporting entrepreneurship across the country.
Success for HEC
Hosted by France Television’s dynamic journalist Anicet Mbida, the final prize giving was conducted in front of a packed debate chamber, full of entrepreneurs and special guests. This year’s awards were dedicated to creative innovation for the cities of tomorrow, and amongst the finalists were Agorize, Leakmited, Tarmac Technologies and Liebr, all the brainchildren of the HEC community. These winners came from across the spectrum in terms of their development. The open innovation platform Agorize took home the Legends award, given to a veteran Blue Ocean Award winner that has seen big success. The now international company aims to connect businesses with innovators from across the world. The team has received an impressive three Blue Ocean Awards, having won Baby in 2014 and Mentor in 2016.
Both Leakmited and Tarmac Technologies won a Baby award – awarded to the best startups that develop new markets. Leakmited, founded by MBA graduate Hubert Baya Toda, harnesses new AI and satellite imaging technologies to identify leaks within underground water systems, aiming to reduce the 35% wastage that currently occurs. Tarmac Technologies provides a real-time data collection and analytics platform to minimize aircraft turnaround time. The technological solution to travel delays was created by Anthoine Dusselier and Maud Payan, both graduates of the MSc X-HEC Entrepreneurs, HEC’s Masters program in partnership with Ecole Polytechnique. Finally, Liebr, an online service which matches specialist mechanics to those in need, won the Hackathon award for a new venture by HEC students.
A Sea of Possibilities
Philippe Oster, Director of Communications at HEC said: “HEC Paris is the school of business innovation. The partnership with the Blue Ocean Awards is the result of an effective collaboration that has made it possible to successfully support and develop many entrepreneurial projects” Indeed, HEC has a strong culture of supporting entrepreneurship and both Tarmac Technologies and Liebr are products of the HEC Incubator at Station F, a startup support program that has supported 320 new businesses since its inauguration. Tarmac has won several awards in 2019, and their appearance at the Blue Ocean Awards is down to their success at the HEC Seed pitch competition, which saw them take home their nomination, alongside 5,000 euros prize money. Liebr is also on a winning streak, having won this year’s edition of the coveted HEC-42 StartUp Launchpad prize – which gave them the keys to a space within the Incubator’s startup community. Their latest success at the Blue Ocean Awards will only allow them to progress further, as they work to follow in the footsteps of Agorize.
The closing ceremony of the 2019 Blue Ocean Awards was broadcast live on YouTube: