With the ways in which people and goods move undergoing a dramatic and disruptive shift, mobility has become a buzzword and priority for everyone from automakers to policymakers. It’s also the subject of events such as Michelin’s Movin’On Conference, which I attended last month in Montreal.
While this was the first event titled Movin’On that the French tire and guidebook company has produced, it evolved from the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, which was launched almost a decade ago and focused on sustainability. For its rechristening as Movin’On, the Michelin Group billed the event as a “global sustainable mobility summit” that featured three days of presentations, panels, round tables and hands-on workshops as well as demonstrations of innovative vehicles and technologies.
Far from a stuffy convention, Movin’On had a fun carnival-like atmosphere that featured Cirque du Soleil-style performers, musicians, deejays, food carts and “Braindates” in chairs suspended from the ceiling, all in a large, cavernous art gallery that spilled onto adjacent park land and abutted an urban canal that featured boat rides. It was SXSW meets CES meets NAIAS, but with a French flair and cutting-edge staging and production.
I attended and asked Claire Dorland-Clauzel, Michelin Group executive vice president of sustainable development, a few questions about the company’s role in mobility and the event’s purpose and future.
C3 Report: Michelin is known as a tire company. What was the motivation for the Movin’On Conference and for the company’s interest in mobility?
Dorland-Clauzel: The Michelin Group has had an interest in sustainable mobility for many years – the first green tire was launched by Michelin in 1992 – and its purpose ever since has been dedicated to offering better mobility to its customers. In terms of global events like Movin’On, the first of these for the Michelin Group was Challenge Bibendum, the first of which took place in 1998 and continued up until Movin’On took its place this year.
The Michelin Group’s interest in sustainable mobility stems from the challenges of maintaining economic growth, but at the same time reducing our environmental footprint in the interests of being a responsible organization for our stakeholders and for the planet. Michelin has been involved in COP21 and COP22 [Paris climate talks] and has taken the leadership to promote a road map for the reduction in carbon emissions within the transport sector between now and 2050.
C3 Report: How can Michelin play a role in the disruptive changes that are occurring and are expected to occur in mobility?
Dorland-Clauzel: The Michelin Group has always been at the forefront of new innovations to ensure that it offers its customers high performing products and services. At Movin’On, we reaffirmed our leadership by unveiling the Vision concept – a revolutionary concept tire which is 100% biodegradable, airless, connected and rechargeable by 3D printing to suit different road and climatic conditions.
To ensure that this innovation strategy is maintained, the Michelin Group invests more than €700 million each year in R&D and employs 6,000 staff in this crucial area of its business. It also has a dedicated steering committee led by our CEO Jean-Dominique Senard, which selects the most appropriate innovation projects and partners and allocates budget and resources to these as required. This gives us the means and strength to be agile, disruptive and achieve our goals.
C3 Report: Why do you feel it’s important to bring together such disparate speakers and partners to speak and present at Movin’On, and what’s their role in the future of mobility?
Dorland-Clauzel: We believe in gathering as many relevant partners, from both the public and private sectors, to access their expertise and to help build the framework of future mobility. This diverse selection of partners will create a creative environment where the sparks of great ideas will be generated.
Each of these stakeholders not only brings their own individual ideas but, more importantly, their own way of doing these things, which can not only offer a different perspective but also bring agility and help make good things happen quickly and efficiently. The format of Movin’On means that these partners can speak and interact in an informal way which can generate the most innovative solutions for the sustainable future of mobility.
Originally published by Forbes.com