The Beehive Creating a social innovation incubator in central Paris
Innovators developing solutions to social and environmental problems feel isolated in Paris, are not visible to the media and potential partners, and collaborate rarely with each another. In parallel, news ways of working are needed in Paris for a new generation of professionals seeking more flexibility, agility and collaboration. An accelerator is needed for entrepreneurship in this field.
A 7000 square feet ecological open space in central Paris, that incubates, connects and promotes social and environmental innovators. The Beehive is run by the entrepreneurs themselves on a sustainable business model, and attracts over 1000 users in its first 5 years. The Beehive offers innovations in terms of service design, business model, governance, community animation, building renovation and space design. Its model has been widely visited, researched (Columbia University, INSEAD, ESSEC, ESCP-Europe, Ecole Polytechnique) and presented, to be replicated elsewhere. It was presented at Obama’s first Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in 2010 in Washington, and was symbolically co-founded by INSEAD and ESSEC.
Partners and clients
Corporate companies (Neuf Cégétel, GDF-Suez, Danone, Véolia, BCG, Commerce Développement, etc.) Public sector (City of Paris- Special Advisor to Innovation and Research, Ile-de-France Region, US Embassy in Paris) Foundations (PPR, Réseau Entreprendre, Ariane de Rothschild, etc.) Universities and business schools (INSEAD, ESSEC, HEC, Sciences-Po, etc.)
Conceived and directed by Wow Labs founders from 2007 to 2012
How can a group of users become a community? Is it possible for the governance of a business, albeit a social business, to be truly participative? How can we create a sustainable business model, independent of any donation or subsidy, on a service for which the market is still emergent and on whose size we have no certainty? How can we best balance local impact with global relevance and networks on a daily basis, and how should human resources be managed within a start-up to guarantee both these aspects of growth? Once the model is confirmed, how do we grow and maintain our brand independence in relation to the public, the corporate and the third sectors? How can impact be measured in a reliable yet frugal way? In creating new knowledge in an emergent sector, is open source the best way to go?
Can a space really be designed collaboratively? Can an ecological renovation be more affordable than a conventional one? Should all stakeholders be involved at the design stage? How can we be sure to create a space that will be adaptable to different uses over time? How far can a space influence the behaviour of its users? How can design impact project costs? Is ecology always visible in an ecological project, and should it be? What role do ergonomics play in creating a relationship between a space and its users? How can materials influence the users' perception of a space? Are ecological materials always the appropriate choice? What user behaviour change can we realistically expect from a space? What really saves energy, and what doesn't? How can a space be readily reconfigured by its users in response to changing needs? How important is it to feel at home in your workspace, and how can that be achieved in agile ways? When does open collaboration start to be a violation of privacy? Once a space becomes emblematic, in order to scale it, how can we keep its DNA but not transpose its elements out of context?