ENGIE and startups: A decade-long success story!

By Engie - 17 May 2024 - 15:43

Ten years ago, the Group created an investment fund dedicated to innovative companies. Johann Boukhors, its Managing Director, gives us an inside look.


Johann Boukhors, Managing Director ENGIE New Ventures


Ten years ago, the Group created ENGIE New Ventures. How did it all start?

Back then, the idea was to bring a wave of innovation to ENGIE by working with startups. We had a triple ambition: decarbonize, decentralize, and digitize our activities (the 3 Ds). Over the past decade, we’ve invested in more than 50 startups as a minority shareholder. Today, our goal is to leverage external innovation to drive the energy transition and improve our Group’s operational performance.

This allows ENGIE to identify and understand emerging technologies, giving us privileged access to integrate these innovations into our activities.

Can you give an example of a startup you’ve invested in? We currently have 25 startups in our portfolio, without holding a controlling stake. Take Raptor Maps, for instance. This Boston-based company has developed a lifecycle management platform for photovoltaic sites. Their innovative technology automatically analyzes drone images to detect non-compliance issues. Raptor Maps has established a promising collaboration with our Renewables GBU, enhancing productivity gains. This framework agreement wouldn't have been possible without the close relationship facilitated by our investment.

Can you take us behind the scenes of ENGIE New Ventures?

Our team consists of around ten people, two of them based in Silicon Valley. Cultural diversity is key, with six different nationalities represented. It is crucial for bringing together a variety of perspectives.

photo d'équipe

We meet quarterly with ENGIE’s business units to collect their innovation priorities.

We present the top startups in their field that we’ve spotted at international clean tech events. This comes to about 200 to 300 startups annually. We then consider the strategic benefits of collaborating with them. Ultimately, we invest in three to five companies every year.

What kind of relationships do you maintain with the startups in your portfolio?

Besides being a shareholder, we generally sit on the company's board of directors. This allows us to know the company from the inside, influence its development, and identify collaboration opportunities with ENGIE entities.

What’s the benefit for a startup to have ENGIE as a shareholder?

Alignment of interest is fundamental. An investment from ENGIE should lead to commercial agreements with Group entities. This provides startups with the opportunity to engage with the market through practical applications.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I’ve always enjoyed building bridges and forming partnerships to create value. It’s thrilling to work on constructing the models of the future!