On Tuesday 25th April 2017, Ludovic Flandin, Managing Director CSR and Innovation at Unibail-Rodamco, was invited in Warsaw (Poland), at the European Conference of the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC). He spoke along with Delphine Leblanc from L’Oréal, and Pascale Bonnard, Founder of Amano, around the theme “Leveraging New Technology to Improve the Shopping Experience”. His keynote focused on how Unibail-Rodamco looks into technology and innovation to execute its strategy, thus creating “Better Places for Tomorrow”.
How to execute such an ambitious strategy addressing the main social and ecological challenges facing commercial real estate for the next 15 years? Ludovic Flandin, Managing Director CSR and Innovation, gave his answer during his keynote in Warsaw for the 2017 ICSC European Conference: the only way to deliver Better Places for the next generation is through technology and innovation.
Here is a summary of his intervention.
Better Collective Power
A challenging CSR strategy such as “Better Places 2030” requires the full support of all stakeholders. Collective power is about working along with local communities, local authorities, and local NGO’s working in the fields of employment, social exclusion, disability and the environment.
Smart applications such as Fluicity are great ways to power to link local communities to stakeholders in the Group. Fluicity allows citizens to react and give their opinion on local matters directly through the application, and enables a constructive dialogue between the mayor, the city-dwellers and other stakeholders. Communication is key to build better collective power, and technology provides the tools to succeed in fostering local collaboration.
One of the main objectives of “Better Places 2030” is to reduce by the carbon footprint -50% of all of the Group’s buildings, and thus, to move toward a low-carbon economy, in keeping with the commitments of COP21. Building greener buildings requires innovative solutions to increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and meet the goals.
This is why Unibail-Rodamco collaborates with the urban farming specialist Sous les Fraises. The startup uses cutting-edge biotechnology based on researches between agronomists, chefs, architects, urban planners, and city-dwellers to install urban farms at the heart of cities. One of them will soon open on the roof of So West, Unibail-Rodamco’s shopping centre in Levallois-Perret. This way, the Group contributes to green up cities and to building a richer, more productive, and healthier environment, along with Sous les Fraises.
Most of the carbon emissions related to Unibail-Rodamco’s operations are linked to transport. Now, having a significant influence on how people get to the Group’s shopping centres and deterring them from using privately-owned vehicles is difficult.
The solution lies in the collaboration with innovative technologies such as Navya, a 100% autonomous, driverless and electric shuttle which can transport up to 15 passengers. Such a concept can help Unibail-Rodamco to meet its goal: the Group hopes 75% of all visitors come to the centres by a sustainable means of transport by 2030.
The last pillar of the Group’s strategy is to power local communities by supporting proximity employment and local economy. A key priority for the company is to convert shopping centres in places to socialise and to meet people. The goal is to create a sense of belonging by improving the life of the centre and the service provided to its customers.
Again, Unibail-Rodamco chose to partner with innovative startups such as Dress in the City, a second-hand digital service, enabling users to buy and sell second-hand clothes and luxury accessories. The concept was brought to the physical world: Dress in the City regularly installs a stand in Unibail-Rodamco’s shopping centres, offering an innovative service to their customers.
The 4 pillars of the “Better Places 2030” CSR strategy all have ambitious goals. To meet them, the Group rightfully looked into innovative solutions. This is why the UR Link business accelerator for startups was created in 2015: twice a year, 5 to 6 startups are brought in the Group’s headquarters for a 4-month acceleration programme in residence, sometimes leading to a long-term relationship. UR Link innovative concepts – such as Amano, a concept to enhance Shopping Experience, also present at the ICSC 2017 European conference – are a key element of the Group’s open innovation strategy, actively contributing to “create better places for tomorrow”.