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Corporate Connections

HEC and ICADE Partner Up to Improve Sustainable Urban Living

HEC Paris has signed a major partnership agreement with ICADE, a French real estate investment trust, principally to create the “Corporate Initiative ICADE for Better Living” program. The October 11 agreement consolidates years of collaboration between the real estate operator and HEC students, professors and staff over the themes of innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability.


From left to right: Olivier Wigniolle, Delphine Colson and Eloïc Peyrache

Urban sustainability has become a massive issue globally as exemplified by efforts to ensure that cities have a minimal environmental footprint on the surrounding area. According to the Urban 21 conference in Berlin, this means “improving the quality of life in a city, including ecological, cultural, political, institutional, social and economic components without leaving a burden on the future generations.”

In this context, the joint initiative by HEC and ICADE to create a series of programs under the guidance of the ICADE Chair for Better Urban Living. They encourage innovation at the service of sustainability - designed to have long-term impact on individuals, business and society at large – is a major stepping stone for both parties. The partnership centers on three objectives: creating a three-week Academy called “Innovating for sustainable urban living” for the school’s first and second year students; consolidating the seven-week Innovation for Good Certificate for final year students; and partnering up with the Ile-de-France’s Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS) Accelerator to scale up existing programs accompanying inclusive businesses.

“We are delighted with this partnership because it is a transversal engagement in a sector which is relatively unknown despite the huge societal and environmental stakes,” said Emma France at the signing ceremony. France is Head of Impact Entrepreneurship Programs and focuses on the ESS part of the ICADE Chair program. As such, she will be partnering up with the Chair led by Julien Lévy, Scientific Director of HEC’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, who also spoke in ICADE’s Issy-les-Moulineaux headquarters. “The partnership with ICADE makes complete sense,”. “For a long time, real estate was only dealt with at HEC from its financial angle,” Lévy told the audience. “Our students believe a priori that it is a traditional industry. It is quite the opposite: this sector has been fully transformed by the revolution of data, sustainable development and the new ways of living and working. ICADE has been at the forefront of this revolution and, by working with ICADE, our students, will discover how much real estate has become a field of opportunities in terms of innovation. »



On the right: Julien Lévy and Emma France

Searching for Durable Land Solutions

The trajectory at ICADE of HEC graduate Maxence Naudin (H18) is a case in point. Naudin has been Innovation Manager in the company ever since he left the business school. The ICADE Open Innovation manager has been researching ways to bring about durable solutions for sustainable land transitions. “We will shortly be publishing a book which calls for the end of the urban spread, what is termed ZAN (Zéro Artificialisation Nette),” he explained. “The need to slow down the artificialization of France’s land and end the urban spread is as important to the Earth as the decarbonization of the atmosphere.”

Naudin is a member of ICADE’s Operational Team in the Start-Up Studio Urban Odyssey, which is part of the innovation department headed by Nicolas Bellego. Since 2019, this Director of Innovation has been driving the corporate startup studio which aims to create solutions for more resilient cities. As part of this program, ICADE has partnered up with the HEC Incubator led by Antoine Leprêtre at Station F. “Today’s partnership consolidates the work we’ve been doing with Antoine for the past three years,” Bellego said. “It will accelerate the exchange of ideas and further formalize our core strategy of placing innovation and CSR at the heart of the ICADE’s development. With HEC students we hope to develop research which both enhances our real estate while integrating the challenges of climate change.”



Olivier Wigniolle

Consolidating a Fruitful Collaboration

The partnership was signed into effect on October 11 by HEC Foundation Executive Director Delphine Colson, HEC Dean Eloïc Peyrache and ICADE’s Director General and former HEC graduate, Olivier Wigniolle (H85). “We celebrate here the fourth stage of our long-term cooperation with HEC,” said Wigniolle, enumerating the steps in the fruitful years of collaboration between the two. “We welcome the youthful creativity and innovation of HEC’s students, which we’ve already seen in action through the students involved in the Digital transformation Certificate. They help anticipate the societal evolutions – for example, the impact of remote and blended work on the workspace and associated services - so we can design an improved quality of life for the population.”

Peyrache insisted on the four pillars on which the partnership is being built: “The links between us are very strong: we share a pool of undeniable talent; we are both accelerating innovation not only through the incubation of startups but the excubation of joint projects like HEC Records and Imagin’Office; we are devoted to impact through increased investment in the ESS Accelerator and its partnership with the Ile-de-France region; and, finally, we seek to apply the research of our specialists and academics to guarantee their work goes beyond academic circles and is applied to real-life situations.”



Eloïc Peyrache

Breathing Life into Ailing Complexes

For HEC student Aymeric Hemmerle (H24), the partnership will serve as a real tonic to the coming year. Hemmerle is into his fourth month of a six month internship which he hopes to prolong by another six months. “There is a truly dynamic management team here, open to new ideas and projects,” he said. “My work in helping to reposition large real estate businesses in order to bring down carbon waste has been mutually beneficial and shown concrete results. In this project, ICADE hopes to resurrect faltering 5,000 m²+ building sites, breathing life into complexes like a Neuilly hotel in which we hope to create a social structure. And it’s enriching for me to contribute to concrete results, and see my ideas and proposals become part of such projects.”

The inaugural ICADE-HEC corporate initiative is set to start in January 2023, while the next seven-week “Innovation for Good” Certificate will begin a few months later.