Co-llectif.fr is a website enabling volunteers to go shopping for basic necessities for people who are unable to do it for themselves. This initiative was led by Léa Genais, Maxence Dominici and Étienne Lécrivain and received support from the Ouest Industries Créatives (OIC) programme as part of its Covid-19 Solutions emergency fund.
While France was feeling the full impact of COVID-19 in the middle of March 2020, three students from the École de design Nantes Atlantique and Polytech Nantes joined forces with three other students, Erwan Launay, Ulysse Guyon (Polytech Nantes) and Alan Le Grand (IMT Atlantique), to put their platform online as quickly as possible. Getting off to a flying start when their project was one of the winners in the European hackathon #EUvsVirus, they decided to pursue its development alongside their studies.
A display of solidarity to support the development of the project
The three students received support from their lecturers, especially through a course waiver. Accompanied by OIC, they received funding to set up the web platform, support for accessing legal, social and technical expertise, and networking opportunities with regional stakeholders who could take up the initiative.
The first partnership with France Télévision was established at the end of March, at the same time as University of Nantes legal experts were working on compliance for the conditions of use and data collection policy. They were thus able to join the #comSOLIDAIRE programme, enjoying free access to the commercial TV and digital advertising inventories offered by France TV Publicité. “Such exposure of our platform from the very beginning really gave us a huge boost” explains Étienne Lécrivain.
After being relayed on France 3 regional platforms (Marne and Pays de la Loire), several hundred volunteers registered on Co-llectif.fr to provide their services to people with disabilities, the elderly, and the medically vulnerable. This visibility played a decisive role as it enabled the students to assess the stability of their site on a large scale.
Participating in the EUvsVirus Hackathon for an international roll out
OIC, an event partner, encouraged its regional network to participate in the #EUvsVirus hackathon organised by the European Commission from 24 to 27 April 2020. Nearly thirty-five students, alumni, PhD students and lecturer-researchers were mobilised in just a few days, including Léa, Étienne and Maxence. They were called on to adapt their website to European and international user profiles because of the scale of the hackathon.
This event was an opportunity to welcome a new team member, Luna Martel, a second year student at the École de design Nantes Atlantique. She contributed to new features such as support for local shops : “We want to promote their activities and give them visibility through our platform. If the owner requests it, their shop will be highlighted on our live map and we will encourage volunteers to shop there”. The feature is not yet available as it is still being studied and developed.
Co-llectif.fr won 3rd place in the “Protection of isolated and high-risk groups” beating 900 other participants and 141 projects. This enabled them to present their project during a matchathon weekend between winners, partners and potential investors. The students exchanged views with city councillors from Porto, Madrid and Cluj-Napoca, as well as a Cypriot minister. Thanks to the hackathon, the team received advice from numerous experts from all over the world in the fields of marketing, economic modelling, business strategy and international communication.
“We are still in discussion with these government bodies to develop a partnership that would allow us to establish ourselves in these cities/regions with local support. Also, we have secured a partnership with Google for the free hosting of the site, and Amazon Web Services, where we are joining their start-up support programme for one year. AWS support includes funding of up to €100,000 for the use of these services as well as the provision of technical advisors. We will also have the opportunity to attend coaching sessions or forums/meet-ups organised by AWS at Station F in Paris”
Students continue to work on the project alongside their studies.
Since mid-June, Co-llectif, which is now operating as an association, has joined the COVID platform of the European Innovation Council. By participating in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator, the team can access a huge network of entrepreneurs from all over Europe, and benefit from coaching sessions provided by Accelerator mentors.
“We are now thinking about the next development phase of our platform. With a view to drawing up a business plan that will enable the site to operate outside of the health crisis, we are working on an internal platform blockchain, as well as an action plan for the coming year”