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Open Innovation
working together
for better mobility

At SNCF, we’re backing digital ideas with the potential to create the services of tomorrow—services that will revolutionize rail travel. The challenge: deliver smoother, better-informed, more customized mobility, by helping passengers make the most of their travel time, managing the flow of traffic aboard our trains, and meeting the needs of every traveller.


Opening up
to innovation

At SNCF, we’re promoting open innovation because we want an ecosystem of creative partners—start-ups, developers, designers and data scientists—that can help us design new passenger services. We joined the open data movement in 2011, and as a good corporate citizen, SNCF has taken a completely transparent approach to sharing data that will benefit passengers and improve mobility. Data including timetables, reliability data on our high-speed TGV trains, and lists of stations, lines, connections and in-station services.

And now we’re going beyond open data to open innovation—because when we share our experience and know-how with start-ups, each partner inspires the other. For SNCF Communications Director Patrick Ropert, the aim is “to create unexpected services by helping the ecosystem combine our data with information from other sources.” Opening up to an innovative ecosystem is essential to driving the door-to-door transport revolution and providing end-to-end solutions for our passengers. And we’re relying on digital technologies to develop new services that will created a customized, connected journey for every passenger.

New services for the “door-to-door” revolution


SNCF joined the open data movement in 2011, making the first data available on line in early 2012 following a discussion that began on our forum. We’ve also organized several open data events, including Hack Days Transilien for developers and the Hackathon des Cheminots for rail workers. Both gatherings brought participants together for a weekend to create innovative new applications, and we’ve built on these events through several targeted contests promoting the use of mobility data to create new services.

Hackathon Transilien: view the video

10 rules for
open innovation

Our open innovation initiative follows 10 rules that facilitate our interactions with start-ups and developers:

  1. make timetables, in-station services, and on-time performance data available to the general public
  2. eliminate legal, technical and financial obstacles
  3. provide free on-line access to data in usable, easy-to-find formats
  4. protect personal and/or sensitive data as required by law
  5. create an open forum to gather all these sources of information in one place
  6. take the lead in creating stakeholder communities—including researchers, developers, designers and individuals)
  7. encourage creation of mobile apps using timetables, global positioning, track accessibility and other public data
  8. help develop innovative services by creating new economic opportunities
  9. set up an SNCF innovation ecosystem
  10. create a win-win model for leading innovators


Since 2011, we’ve met with several hundred start-ups. We’ve selected projects, reworked key concepts, backed pilots, shared our expertise, supported developers and made the leap into open innovation. And to keep improving the passenger experience with even more innovation, on 30 January 2014 we selected the first group of companies for our Voyageur connecté start-up incubator—a new initiative launched with our partner Paris Incubateurs.

A committee representing SNCF, Paris Incubateurs, the City of Paris and BPIFrance chose seven start-ups: CitéGreen, Géovélo, Fidzup, Clameurs, J’accède, Apila and Open Data Soft. Being chosen for the incubator is a vote of confidence that helps these young entrepreneurs learn about the corporate world, understand how big companies operate, recognize the challenges and constraints we face—and begin their own growth process.

SNCF provides support by offering mentors and targeted resources, including technical support, advice and lessons learned. It’s a win-win partnership that boosts our creativity and builds an ecosystem around connected services for our passengers. “New talent is a breath of fresh air that brings innovation and agility into our company,” says SNCF Group Communications Director Patrick Ropert

Learn more about the start-ups participating in our incubator

Learn more about our “Voyageur Connecté” incubator


Inspired by similar initiatives in the US, Le Camping helps new businesses grow faster through active support from partners like SNCF. Since 2011, Le Camping has created 259 jobs, raised €10 million for 51 viable businesses and connected 250 entrepreneurs with 60 leading mentors. In 2014 we’re participating in Le Camping again, for our sixth season in a row. When we work with young entrepreneurs, we tap into a wellspring of innovation that improves the passenger experience.

Learn more


Since we joined the open innovation movement and opened our data up to the public, SNCF has cultivated co-development partnerships with start-ups, developers, designers and data scientists. These relationships have generated innovative digital services for our clients, and the trust we’ve placed in our partners has enhanced their credibility and opened new doors for them. Having SNCF as a partner also enables start-ups to join incubators, recruit young creative talent and connect with investors.

We tested our collaborative video product with SNCF Voyages during the TGV Nord 20th anniversary celebration and on These experiences helped us realize that our app was more appropriate for targeted groups than events designed for the general public, and that, in turn, allowed us to refine our concept,” says Victor Grange, CEO of Znappit, a collaborative video creation platform. For some start-ups, SNCF has become their first client—and better yet, their partner.

On the data side, we’ve identified some 20 apps and internal sites that are using SNCF data, including the Tranquilien app developed by Snips, a French start-up, with support from SNCF. The idea for the app came from a passenger who uses our Transilien lines every day: with Tranquilien, users know in advance how crowded their train will be, making day-to-day commuting more comfortable. This collaborative app is a powerful example of what open innovation can do for travel. And yet another reason why SNCF should stay committed to it.

Download the Tranquilien app

Video: learn more about Tranquilien