Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre

ⓒ Japanese Red Cross Society

[Digest RCRC Innovation] N. 3

May 31 / 2023

Innovation N. 3


Innovation Topic this week:

Intrapreneurship Programme at 21, the Social Innovation Accelerator of the French Red Cross

Key Summary:

The Intrapreneurship Programme at 21 supports volunteers, employees, and students in the French Red Cross carrying out a social innovation project with its development from prototyping to testing and deployment in real conditions.


Faced with the major socio-economic changes of the 21st century, the French Red Cross has transformed itself over several years in order to strengthen its impact. It has launched a performance and development plan, implemented a Corporate Social Responsibility programme, and deployed a social innovation strategy to remain true to its history and values. This is why the Association created “21” in 2019. “21” is a social innovation accelerator, including a co-working space for social enterprises and a set of programmes to support social impact projects.

The objective of the program is to support and promote ideas from the field – from the ideation phase to the creation of a new product or service, helping volunteers embrace a new professional journey. This approach also transforms the nature of volunteering – creating more committed and proactive opportunities. By reversing the top-down approach to innovation typical of pyramidal structures, the French Red Cross relies on the knowledge, skills, and creativity of its 60,000 volunteers and 18,000 employees who work every day as close to the field as possible. The French Red Cross seeks to capitalize on the emerging ideas coming from its local chapters, retirement homes, homeless support or first aid actions, in order to meet the social needs of today and tomorrow.

Each programme season lasts 6 months during which 4 projects are supported. French Red Cross members have between 2 and 4 months to respond to an internal call for projects to join the programme. Once the applications have been received, the team of 21 presents the most promising ideas to the various business divisions of the French Red Cross. The team of 21 then centralizes all the feedback and selects, on this basis, the 10 finalists who will appear before the Selection Committee. Mixed, equal, diverse, and composed of personalities from within and outside the Association, this Committee is made up of four juries of five people. After its presentation by the project team, each project is examined by two juries. After a day’s deliberation, the Selection Committee announces the four winners for the new season.

The programs supported are divided into 6 categories:

Intrapreneurship program

Employees and volunteers of the French Red Cross can develop projects to create solutions with social impact and become the driving force for change in the association.

Entrepreunariat program

Start-ups, associations or organizations accelerated by 21 can benefit from the French Red Cross’ testing fields in order to adapt their solutions to our needs and thus be able to integrate their product and service throughout the network.


DATA Impact program

Targeting startups, associations or organizations, this program aims to reduce inequalities in terms of access to the healthcare system by facilitating access to digital health. Impact Data is a program supported by the French Red Cross, the Roche Foundation and 21.

Employment and Disability Program

Although 12 million French people are currently living with disabilities, only 938,000 are working. In order to find concrete answers, 21 and OETH develop solutions for the inclusion in the employment of people with disabilities in the health and social sector.

Social Co-working

The social co-working of 21 is a sharing space dedicated to entrepreneurs and organizations contributing to the dynamics of social and medico-social innovation and to the ecosystem of the social and solidarity economy.

Aging Well

Nearly 4 million seniors are expected in 2040, and by 2060, people aged 75 and older will account for 72% of the total population. In this context, Accelerator 21, the French Red Cross and Nexem are joining forces with AG2R LA MONDIALE and CNAV to accelerate and support the development of innovations that promote the emergence of healthy aging and longevity societies.


For each winning project team, the Intrapreneurship Programme of 21 offers:


  • A weekly follow-up by the Intrapreneur manager of 21 specialized in the support of social projects;
  • The provision of a mentor from the French Red Cross to support the development of the project within the Association;
  • Access to a community of experienced entrepreneurs, external professionals and a corpus of training courses;
  • Access to advice from external professionals, a body of training and peer-sharing time;
  • Funding to carry out the experiment of up to €15,000;
  • A workstation in the co-working of 21, located in Montrouge (Hauts-de-Seine department, 92).
  • In addition, more specific but very useful project management tools have been developed, such as a master plan, a tool for monitoring weekly points, a directory of useful contacts and an impact measurement kit. All these elements are centralized in a Google Drive shared with the winners.
  • All of these resources are used throughout the winners’ journey. This is broken down into three successive phases: conception, prototyping, and deployment if validated by the Validation Committee.

Conception phase (8 weeks)


The objective of the conception is to ensure that each winning team acquires maximum knowledge of its target and its ecosystem in order to develop the best possible value proposition. To do this, each team must follow the following four training courses: from idea to project, introduction to measuring social impact, search for partnerships & funding, communication around the project. In addition to other complementary tailor-made training courses (issues of influence & mapping of internal stakeholders, user research, user path design, prototyping, socio-economic models, etc.), the intrapreneurs have at their disposal a pool of more than 50 experts who can be called upon for individual work sessions. Their expertise ranges from marketing to fundraising and team building.

A mentor is assigned to each winner. The former ensures that each stage of the coaching process runs smoothly. In particular, he or she must anticipate technical or organizational difficulties and centralize all information relating to the project. The Intrapreneur manager of 21 spends an average of one day per week to each project. The role of the second is to guide the intrapreneur in his or her relationship with the French Red Cross and to support him or her in the overall consolidation of his or her project. This involves identifying the key people for the project within the French Red Cross, bringing the project to the association’s decision-makers and passing on its expertise and experience in the field. The frequency of exchanges with the mentor varies, depending on the duos and needs, from 1 hour per week to 1 hour per month.

At the end of the conception phase, each winner must have defined his or her value proposition in relation to the needs of the beneficiaries, and built a solid team ready to commit to experimenting with the project.


Prototyping (8 weeks)


This phase starts with the creation of a prototype of the solution, i.e. an incomplete and non-definitive example of what the final product or service could be. The aim is to improve the process in an iterative logic: the prototype is tested in the field and, after identifying the weak and strong points, it is improved. A new phase of tests is started and so on. These prototypes can be of different types: a mobile application, a landing page, a flyer, a paper guide, physical prototypes, contracts, etc.


Using their network and that of their mentor, the intrapreneurs identify French Red Cross structures wishing to experiment with their concept. The multiplication of trials makes it possible to specify the form of the final product/service, to estimate the costs and therefore the amount of funding to be obtained. This stage is therefore an opportunity to lay the foundations of the economic model. At the same time, obtaining the first results from successive trials requires the implementation of an impact measurement system.


Deployment phase (8 weeks)

A Validation Committee then assesses the relevance of the deployment of the winning projects within the Association. It is made up of the following members of the French Red Cross: the Secretary General, the relevant business departments, the Chief of Innovation and other representatives of the Association’s and 21’s board. The intrapreneurs and their mentors are also present.


The Intrapreneur manager of 21 presents the results of the experimentation with:


  • A review of the achievements of the 6 months (around the work areas defined at the beginning of the coaching: product, communication, team, legal, etc.);
  • A review of the feedback of the actors and public supported by the French Red Cross who were able to test the solution;
  • An assessment of the social impact of the project;
  • The conditions of deployment (economic model, human resources, governance).


Why is it innovative?


  • Social or organizational needs : Embed ideas from the field within the activities of French Red Cross
  • Adding value : Support, test, and develop solutions for employees and volunteers and help them to scale up
  • Social impact : 12 projects supported and 10 projects developed within the French Red Cross
  • Strategic interest : Foster innovation within the French Red Cross and diversify the means of engagement for volunteers


Sources from:


To learn more interesting innovations, check out this website!

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