Skip to main content
Stéphane Cobo RATP
Business models Quality of Life Mobility

3 questions for Stéphane Cobo

If you’ve ever traveled on the Paris metro, you’ve heard of the RATP. But for the RATP Group, active on four continents and a founding partner of thecamp, mobility is about much more than just transportation. What will life in cities be like tomorrow? Stéphane Cobo, Innovation Manager and Startup Sherpa, answers a few questions!

What are the biggest trends for the future of mobility, and what will be the RATP’s role?

Well, as of about 15 years ago, we started talking about mobility instead of about transportation – that’s a significant change! Throughout the beginning of the 20th century and since the advent of metro systems, people were talking about technical solutions, even about a technical revolution. That reflected an idea of city life as something that should be sanitized, efficient and mechanized.

Today, we expect mobility to be as easy to use as Amazon or Uber. We want to our whole trip to be taken care of in one click, and to be able to work, have fun, shop, relax and socialize on the move. We want mobility that makes daily life easier, that responds to our individual needs. We now have a culture of mobility that takes into account societal needs for movement that is fluid, simple, immediate, continuous and personalized.

And of course, we also expect that this new mobility will happen with low energy use, without emissions, and if possible, without noise, in urban areas… The mission of the major players in mobility is changing radically. The profession of operating transportation is becoming a profession that’s actually focused on wellbeing in cities.

For the RATP Group, that translates into a willingness to work on “feel good cities,” to make the lives of city dwellers easier and contribute to surroundings that are sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. We use that term deliberately instead of “smart cities,” which reflects an overly technologized approach to cities.

This means that the RATP will move upwards in the mobility value chain, becoming an integrator of solutions and no longer just an operator (CityMapper and Google are moving downwards in the value chain, going from personalized data to transportation; Uber is moving up, going from transportation to personalized data). Tomorrow, the RATP will be above all a mobility solutions platform, even an urban solutions platform that makes city life easier and that increases the value of local areas. It’ll be a kind of CitySolver, where mobility is just one answer.

And that’s really what our clients, local authorities, expect from us: more than just transportation or technical solutions, they’re buying surroundings to live in. By putting mobility solutions into place, they’re buying social, environmental and economic value for their local area.

 

Last September, the RATP launched Urbanopolis, a “network of innovation locations”; will this network contribute to finding these solutions?

The goal of Urbanopolis is to boost innovation at the scale of the Group.

It’s meant to provide inspiration, and encourage collaboration and sharing. 6 locations have opened (5 in the Paris area, 1 in Morocco) and more will open soon. The Hub is located in the Group headquarters in Paris, and its role is to coordinate the network and make the Group’s innovation efforts visible.

There’s also a participatory innovation program integrated into Urbanopolis, because we’re convinced that innovation should involve everyone, that anyone can have a good idea. Our colleagues are very much on board and we’re already getting a lot of input.

 

– What’s the meaning behind the RATP’s partnership with thecamp?

I see thecamp as a machine for making B Corps (companies that meet the most demanding criteria for social and environmental performance). The partners of thecamp are there to try and translate their business into something more meaningful – for society, for the environment. The RATP is already a mission-oriented company that’s focused on the common good and on making mobility accessible to everyone, but in the face of the huge changes happening, and the tensions that are weighing on our business model, we have to transform ourselves, reinvent ourselves. The risk is that we would end up in a model that’s similar to our competitors, when we have our own distinctive DNA. That’s why we want to reinvent our B Corp model. That’s the real challenge of our partnership with thecamp.