HOW DOES ONE SUPPORT INNOVATION IN OFFSHORE RACING?
Innovation and offshore racing are in the same boat, in fact they go hand in hand with one another. Oceanic competition is developing in line with new technologies, which have an increasingly important role in the way teams operate and develop. We get the low-down with Christophe Seillier, BPIfrance’s regional representative for Finistère-Morbihan.
WHAT DID THIS MORNING’S CONFERENCE CONSIST OF?
“The director of Thomas Ruyant’s team, Thomas Gavériaux, came along to explain the way the team, which develops, optimises and gets the best out of offshore race boats, is structured. Alongside him were finance specialists like Crédit Agricole, chartered accountants from Baker-Tilly and economic development agency for the Lorient basin Audélor, and therefore BPIfrance explained their take on things and shared their expertise in supporting and funding ventures. We discussed the role of innovation in the booming sector of offshore racing and the repercussions of this in economic terms and in business models.”
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS AND CURRENT TRENDS IN THIS FIELD?
“Innovation is playing an increasingly central role and that’s been the key trend over recent years, which have been punctuated by a real buzz in this sector, especially so in the Lorient region, where the ecosystem has enjoyed sudden and amazing vitality in this high-tech sector. However, the initial repercussions of this for the teams relate to the fact that they have to be structured like traditional SMEs, with a finance department and a strong R&D department. We’re seeing that teams are putting a lot of work into this restructuring in a bid to adopt organisational schemes, which are in line with an activity geared around both the quest for sporting results and the development of innovations and technology that may have wider appeal for other areas of activity. This process involves revising business models around an activity which is becoming more complex the more it expands.”
CAN YOU GIVE SOME EXAMPLES OF INNOVATIONS DEVELOPED BY OFFSHORE RACING, WHICH ARE SPILLING OVER THEIR SECTOR?
“I think we’re at the start of this diversification of uses and markets, which are opening up the channels for development and may make it possible for teams not to be 100% reliant on events and able to sustain their activity in the longer term. However, the data, the carbon work, which used to be a trademark of the aeronautics industry, is increasingly giving rise to cutting-edge technologies which are a standard reference in offshore racing, routing software, etc. We can also use the example of Mer Concept in nearby Concarneau which, in addition to François Gabart’s sporting activity, is today integrating a sustainable innovation laboratory with the aim of developing transfers of technology to encourage the decarbonisation of sea transport.”