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“@ Safran, We love intrapreneurs!”


Innovating in start-up mode: that’s the purpose of Safran’s intrapreneurship program. Within barely a year, the first season has included two high-potential projects entering the acceleration phase and the second season has already begun. If you missed the start, here’s the pitch*!

3D loom : carbon fiber

Innovating is about having not just good ideas, but a certain mindset too. And that’s why Safran launched an innovation support program called “We love intrapreneurs” at the end of 2018. The idea is to encourage employees to identify new products and services that could generate value for the Group, and to help them fulfill their project within the company. “Intrapreneurship is where an employee’s motivation and their company’s strategy meet to grasp new business opportunities,” summarizes Olivier Leclerc, who coordinates the initiative in the R&T and Innovation Division. “This has always existed informally. What’s changed is the status and resources we give it. In a world that’s moving faster and where competition is ever fiercer, you have to always reinvent yourself more quickly. And to do that you have to know how to innovate in an agile way. Intrapreneurship is a response to this challenge.” 

May the best intrapreneur win!

The “We love intrapreneurs” program doesn’t replace existing innovation schemes. Rather, it complements them. “For a long time, the Group’s employees have been encouraged to share their bright ideas, for example as part of participative innovation,” Olivier Leclerc reminds us. “With this scheme, we’re going further by asking them to promote, explore and defend their ideas, to build a team, and to devise a business plan. Just like entrepreneurs creating a start-up.”

To pick out the best projects, a selection process in several stages was set up. Following a phase in which project ideas are gathered, two presentations take place—with an interval of a few weeks between them—before a panel of judges who only select a handful of projects. For the first season, seven out of 126 projects were chosen via this process.

Widening the scope of innovation

To clear this stage, the projects have to be ambitious, fit the group’s strategy, show a considerable degree of innovation and have the potential of being marketed in less than five years. Beyond these criteria, the range of possibilities is very wide. “One of the program’s advantages is that it considerably widens the scope of innovation,” believes Olivier Leclerc. “Indeed, the projects aren’t limited to technical subjects. They can also concern organizational, managerial or sales issues. So many fields where value can be generated.” 

Learning how to become an intrapreneur

The preselected teams are then supported for four months by the business and management school Emlyon Business School. “During this pre-incubation phase,” explains Olivier Leclerc, “they learn how to make their idea concrete, and how to test and prototype their solution. They also enjoy coaching on team cohesion and managerial skills, which play a key role in a project’s success.” Lastly, following a final oral defense of the projects before a panel of judges, the chosen projects (one to three) enter an in-house project accelerator in the Group (see box). Beyond its capacity to generate value for the Group, intrapreneurship is also a real cultural change regarding agility, initiatives and action,” underlines Olivier Leclerc. “It helps detect and nurture entrepreneurial employees and it helps attract the new talents Safran needs to build its future.”

Following an initial European edition, the second season of the “We love intrapreneurs” program, which was launched this summer, has been introduced worldwide. 115 projects have been put forward: the final selection will take place in spring 2020!


Find out more

The First Season’s Prizewinners

The two winning projects of the first season of “We love intrapreneurs”: “Run[Waiz]”, a system for capturing and transmitting the state of runways, and “Fonderie Aluminium 4.0 !”, a method for securing the supply of rare parts produced on a small scale. The teams then work full time in an in-house accelerator in the Safran Tech center for research and innovation. In three years’ time, the two solutions could be transferred to a Group company to be marketed.

Watch the video Discover intrapreneurship at Safran!


* Term used in intrapreneurship to mean a short presentation of a project.



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