In 2015, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (then Unibail-Rodamco) initiated an international internal talent program dedicated to innovation: the Innovation Champion Graduate Program. Four years later, what are the results of this program?
A program to foster the culture of innovation within the Group
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield created the Innovation Champion Graduate Program across Europe in 2015 with 4 main initial goals:
- Impact: increasing the number of innovative projects carried out in the Group
- Culture: nurturing an innovation mindset within the Group
- Career development: encouraging cross functional and cross border collaboration
- Employer brand: attracting and retaining forward-thinking talents across Europe
The program offers the opportunity to any Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield employee to take on responsibilities and to lead an innovative initiative within the Group. It has recruited nearly 80 participants since the beginning, and it has involved collaborators from all functions – from operational marketing, to IT, Development or Leasing – and from all Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield countries – France, Germany, Spain, the Nordics, the Netherlands etc.
Thanks to these complementary profiles, projects have been carried out on very diverse topics: communication, destinations conception, shopping centre management or CSR for example. Among the different missions led by participants, we can mention urban farming, the organization of the Grand Prix Commerce, the exploration of the use of robots, smart asset technologies, etc.
Here is Joscha Domdey telling more about his experience as an Innovation Champion in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Germany, working on the coordination and sourcing of new collaboration opportunities for Überseequartier and the Group in general :
Successful results in 2018
After 4 years, the program has shown success and efficiency on many aspects. First, almost 60% of all projects have been deployed and 15% of them are still ongoing.
In 2018, 5 participants carried out projects as part of the Innovation Champion Graduate Program. They benefited from innovation training paths with modules on innovation (such as brainstorming techniques or design thinking) and specific sessions for their projects. All participants are also gathered once a year for an “ICGP day” reuniting the Group innovation community in a city destination of Europe (in Berlin last year) to discover its innovation and start-up ecosystem.
The 2018 promotion included a project on bio-sourced materials. The project consisted in developing knowledge on new materials to be used for construction or design purposes in our malls, in the view of reinventing our customer experience and achieving a significant part of our objective of carbon emissions reduction for our constructions: the ambitious goal of -35% was set in our CSR strategy Better Places 2030. This ongoing project has enriched our knowledge on the topic and enabled us to consider solutions and partnerships in the future.
Another example from 2018 is a project on fashion upcycling: the goal was to collect and revalue unsold, faulty or old fashion items from our retailers and visitors. This exploration led to a mapping of actors on the fashion revaluation sector, and projects to be tested and implemented and with Croix Rouge in France and another player in Germany.
What to expect in the coming year?
The objective will be to boost the number of ICGP applicants on projects on topics of interest for the Group from the regions and to involve even more regions in the management of this initiative.
After four years of running the Innovation Champion Graduate Program, we really seek to accelerate it this year as new exciting techs, such as blockchain, will be investigated and deepened. We look forward to welcoming the next promotion and starting to work with them!Julie Villet