Amaury Lab: a startup incubator led by a publisher
Amaury Lab brings together startups and entrepreneurs with the established Amaury Group publishing house to collaborate innovate, develop new projects and share creative approaches.
The Amaury Group is one of the largest publishers in France. Its brands include newspapers L’Equipe and Le Parisien, advertising and branding arm Amaury Medias and a range of magazines.
The Lab is a place where new ideas and technologies can infuze innovation throughout the publisher, and beyond into the startup community. The results so far have included machine learning software, the exploration of new markets and internal change management.
Startups and internal innovation
The Lab, established in 2014, functions by offering startup incubation opportunities – allowing them to grow their businesses. It provides office space and facilities without charge and access to internal data and systems. It is hoped that the products and services developed will assist with the startup’s growth, and in Amaury’s own innovation development.
It’s work is, therefore, diverse. It spans data analysis solution, machine learning, artificial intelligence, social network monitoring and new interactive and immersive media products and experiences.
Nathalie Guicherd, innovation manager and head of the Amaury Lab, highlights a number of key products Amaury and its incubator Lab have launched.
She outlines the Lab’s work with L’Equipe’s dedicated ‘esports’ tournament and related activities (Esports are video gaming competitions, which are popular in a number of markets globally, and are particularly active in South Korea. Earlier this year, Newzoo suggested that esports could be worth $463m in 2016 – a figure that demonstrates year-on-year growth of 43 per cent).
The Lab developed several tests to monitor esports’ potential against L’Equipe’s audience and users. Once the esports programme was underway, it created a show on Channel l’Equipe 21 to analyse e-sport trends and accompany the e-sport tournament.
However, the Lab has also worked on a number of other successful products. These include personalised newsletters that are generated using machine learning software, which are three times more successful than standard versions.
Methods and processes
The Lab has a number of core elements to its work. These include forming local partnerships, creating individual support for the startups it works with, offering training for specific skills and needs, and conducting experiments in real world conditions within Amaury’s operations.
It also follows a four stage process for innovation activities:
- Analysing market innovation trends outside media
- Monthly Innovation Committee shares learning with all managers. Those present look at a specific innovation topic and imagine how the teams could implement this topic and the potential effects for them.
- Open-innovation with key customers, partners and startups (i.e. strategic partnerships)
- Engaging with the startup incubator
When considering an innovation approach, Guicherd says that curiosity is key.
“Be open to every single idea, test in reality, never say ‘this won’t work’. Learn from every single failure. Don’t think ‘media only’. Be curious from everything and share this mindset throughout the company.”
She adds that to pursue innovation, the concept of ‘value for money’ should be forgotten. Guicherd says that, from the perspective of a media group engaging with a startup community, it’s important to understand startups and their ability to be agile.
Once in the lab, startups work closely with the various editorial operations. Guicherd outlines that there is a continuous conversation with the editorial operations to ensure the lab and the startups grasp how products and technologies are performing from an editorial perspective.
In terms of a specific process, the Lab undertakes market monitoring across a range of industries or sectors. They also test their concepts to generate learning on an operational level. Openness is also at the core of their activities. “Open the doors to all startups, competitors to imagine new ideas, she says. “Innovation is an issue for everyone, whatever his position or job.”
However, she does highlight challenges that the Lab faces.
Guicherd explains that the lab is also involved in “deep change management work”. She argues that it is important to “always explain, convince and show the results” to ensure others within the group understand the work and impact of the startup collaborations.
Short and long-term innovation
The Lab aims to foster both short-term rapid development, but also operate over a longer-term basis.
“Our Startup incubator publishes two calls for application per year to the market to address specific strategic issues for the group, Guicherd explains. “We also monitor, meet and work with every new technology actor or producer – such as universities, platforms, startups, companies bringing new solutions to other markets to anticipate as many disruption subjects as possible.” These disruptions could include data, new business models and new methods of innovation management.
“Innovation is an issue for everyone, whatever his position or job,” she adds.
Nathalie Guicherd, Innovation Manager, Head of Startup accelerator, Amaury Lab, France
Twitter : @Nath_Guicherd
Lab Twitter: @groupeamaurylab