CMA CGM creates ‘Ze Box’ innovation hub


The CMA CGM Group has announced the creation of its first international startup incubator, ‘Ze Box’, which it hopes will help accelerate the container shipping group’s digital strategy.

Opening in June 2018 in the Le Castel building in Marseilles, it will cover a surface of 800sqm and will house a dozen of startups from around the world to develop their potential, with a call for applications to be launched shortly.

CMA CGM said the creation of Ze Box was part of the group’s strategy “to make digitalization one of the pillars of its development”.

Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and chief executive officer of the CMA CGM Group, commented: “With Ze Box, CMA CGM is accelerating its digital strategy and is developing the means to become the transportation industry’s leader in innovation. By combining our expertise with that of the start-ups that will be hosted within Ze Box, we will develop global innovations that create value for our customers and for CMA CGM.

“Thanks to Ze Box, our ambition is to attract to France the best start-ups from all around the world. Its creation in Marseilles also shows our strong will to contribute to the economic development of this territory.”

Ze Box is launched within a “strong and ambitious” partnership with the Aix-Marseilles University and the Aix-Marseille Provence Métropole. “As a centre for exchanges aimed at accompanying startups and promote an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, Ze Box will benefit from CMA CGM’s expertise and from the skills of researchers and PhD students”, the group said.

It will be headed by Matthieu Somekh, previously head of entrepreneurship and innovation at Ecole Polytechnique, a leading French institute which combines top-level research, academics and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology.

“By creating its first international incubator, CMA CGM confirms its leading role in the economic development of the regional territory by boosting the emergence of a digital ecosystem to help create disruptive and innovative products and services,” the French shipping group said.

CMA CGM said the Ze Box innovation would “accelerate, complete, and strengthen the initiatives that have already been launched by the Group within the past months”. These have included the appointment of a worldwide team of chief digital officers; the creation of CMA CGM Ventures, the corporate venture structure dedicated to investments in innovative technologies such as Nyshex, the first digital marketplace for ocean freight contracts, and e-dray, a collaborative platform enabling drayers to limit port congestion.

Other initiatives have included: support for Le Carburateur, a startup incubator for the northern districts of Marseilles, with financial support awarded to five businesses related to the sea, transport and logistics sectors; partnerships with Aix Marseille French Tech, a key player in digital innovation, and The Camp, an innovative campus bringing together large companies, start-ups, teachers and researchers; a partnership with Infosys, a global IT leader, to accelerate the transformation of its information system; and new partnerships with major e-business companies like Alibaba.