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Incorporating CSR and Innovation at the heart of Corporate strategy : Interview of Flore JACHIMOWICZ, member of the Executive Committee at Icade, in charge of CSR and Innovation

Urban Chronicles™ met with Flore Jachimowicz, member of the Executive Committee at Icade, in charge of CSR and Innovation. How does Icade combine CSR and innovation within its direction? As a leader in sustainability, what vision is driving the development of the group’s CSR and Innovation strategy? What challenges does Icade face? What changes does Icade anticipate as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis? Find out the answer to these questions in this interview.

Green Soluce: Can you introduce us to the Icade Group and explain how CSR and Innovation are integrated into the Group’s strategy?

Flore JACHIMOWICZ: Icade is a real estate company with three core businesses. The first one is the tertiary real estate division which is leader of the tertiary real estate in Greater Paris and the regional metropolis. The second one is the health real estate division, for which we are European leaders. Lastly, we have the real estate promotion, most known by the general public because we are present all over France. Our major stakeholders are la Caisse des Dépôts and Crédit Agricole Assurances.

We created a direction uniting CSR and innovation in 2020, which I represent at the EXCOM. We strive to be leaders of our sector in terms of CSR and innovation. In order to achieve this, our work is organised around five main points:

  • The impact on climate change, we have very high ambitions and a strong commitment towards low carbon emissions;
  • Biodiversity conservation;
  • The scarcity of resources and the circular economy;
  • The cohesion and inclusion of territories;
  • The engagement, agility and collaboration.

GS: how do both fields (CSR & Innovation) intersect ?

FJ: CSR sets the direction and goals, it is there to guides us. Innovation is our tool to reach these goals, it provides the means to be more insightful, connected to the surroundings, and to develop new activities. For Icade, innovation is turned towards business and the industrialisation of new procedures which will enable us to reach the five strategic points previously discussed.

GS: Icade is considered a leader in terms of sustainability, what vision would you like to put forward for the development of Icade’s CSR strategy and innovation ?

FJ: Following an important collaborative work, Icade recently embraced its “reason to be” and integrated it as foreword of its status, during the general assembly of April 2020.

“Design, Build, Manage and Invest
in cities, neighborhoods, buildings
that are innovative places, places of diversity, places that are inclusive,
connected places with a reduced carbon footprint.
Places where it’s pleasant to live, to work.
That is our ambition. That is our goal.
That’s what we stand for.”

This vision embodies the concept of sustainability. This means that through CSR targets which are specific to the achievement of ambitious objectives for the whole group, we must contribute to this “reason to be”. This articulation is very interesting due to the ways in which it will shape the development of the CSR and the Innovation strategy.

This ambition is the result of the work carried by all the employees, before my arrival. It is in line with the vision of our manager, Olivier Wigniolle, who has driven this movement and its implementation.

GS: What are the main challenges you face in the development of your five strategic points?

FJ: Accelerating the low-carbon transition and conserving resources is Icade’s first challenge. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is ambitious and requires a change of direction. This means that we must make more efforts in terms of low-carbon construction and responsible exploitation. Our businesses include construction but also facility management. Therefore, this notion of responsible exploitation is very important. We are integrating the effects of climate change into our investment strategy and we are no longer buying the same types of assets that we used to buy. Between 2015 and 2019, we reduced our carbon emissions by 27%. What is interesting is that our actions embody our low carbon commitment.

We are also promoting biodiversity through the signature of forums and public statements, and by taking a strong stand on the topic.

All these elements will impact our extra-financial indicators, enabling us to capture the interest of banks and investors in all our projects.

GS: Your Start-up Studio Urban Odyssey is launching its second call for projects. Could you give us more information on your ambition for this call for projects?

FJ: Urban Odyssey is a start-up studio dedicated to the city of tomorrow. It was launched in June 2019. Its ambition is to industrialize innovative offers to support the daily activities of our businesses. In order to allow these solutions to have an impact, we have set up an innovative system to integrate this external ecosystem by attracting urban entrepreneurs and start-ups. We support them in their incubation and we can eventually raise capital. It is also possible to collaborate with Icade employees in an intrapreneurship way of thinking.

During the 1st season of Urban Odyssey, we assisted 6 start-ups that you can find on our website. The second season was launched at the beginning of June 2020. We are looking for entrepreneurs who are specialized in soft mobility, the office of tomorrow, the resilient city, and other topics around the sustainable city of tomorrow. These topics echo the post-Covid context. For this second season, our objective is to support 5 start-ups and we already have about a hundred applications. We will make our selection in September 2020, and the selected start-ups will then be incubated at Station F with our partner HEC.

GS: A lot of people are talking about the “post-Covid” period. What changes do you anticipate at Icade as a result of this health crisis?

FJ: Indeed, the issues raised by CSR and innovation echo the current period. However, the challenges of the real estate sector were already at the heart of Icade’s concerns. How can we rethink residential real estate, the office of tomorrow and the city of tomorrow?

With this crisis, we can see that things are changing. Is teleworking going to spread? How can we live in dense historical city centers with little nature? All these important questions have arisen. My conviction is that we will have to reflect thoroughly on diversity, inclusion, carbon footprint and quality of life.

The constraints in terms of CSR are also borne by the legislator, for example with France’s carbon neutrality trajectory for 2050. What certain is that we can not build the city of tomorrow alone, we will have to build it collectively.

Interview by François LAFARGUE for Urban Chronicles™.

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Green SoluceIncorporating CSR and Innovation at the heart of Corporate strategy : Interview of Flore JACHIMOWICZ, member of the Executive Committee at Icade, in charge of CSR and Innovation
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