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Blue Ocean Strategy Inspires the First Ever Blue Awards in France

On November 24th, the first annual Blue Award ceremony took place in Paris, France. The Blue Award competition was launched a year earlier with the express intent of recognizing small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in France that are creating blue oceans of uncontested market space. With the French economy facing steep growth challenges and established French companies increasingly operating in overcrowded red ocean industries, recognizing French SMEs that have taken a blue ocean approach was seen as key to inspiring other French companies to embark on their own blue ocean journey to spur the growth of the French economy.

The Blue Awards is the brainchild of the consulting firm AXESSIO and HEC Business School Paris in partnership with HP France, which hosted the award ceremony. Alban Eral, the Director of Strategy and Innovation at AXESSIO, explained that what prompted him to organize this conference was the desire to reward and valorize French SMEs that had managed to create a blue ocean by unlocking new demand.


The Blue Ocean Award garnered strong support in France ranging from the DGE, Direction Generale des Enterprise, to Orange, Johnson & Johnson and HP France. In total the Blue Award competition attracted over 100 submissions across France in four categories: Consumer Products, Services to Individuals, Products for Professionals, and Business Services. These 100 submissions covered enterprises in industries as diverse as food/restaurant, banking, fitness/wellness, flooring, healthcare, publishing, beauty, and even carpooling. Given the large number of diverse submissions, the selection panel was expanded to 23 recognized experts of innovation. Among them were two Professors of HEC, Julien Lévy and Stéphane Madoeuf, Bruno Buffenoir, Vice President and General Director for Sales at HP France,Thierry Odos, Director Open & External Innovation EMEA at Johnson & Johnson, and Lauren Mathys, one of our own Senior Members of the Blue Ocean Strategy Network.

HP France wanted to be a partner of the first edition of Blue Awards to reiterate its commitment to SMEs which are the lungs of the French economy. These companies are the proof that France is still a land of innovation with many talents.

Gerald Karsenti
CEO, HP France
Honorary Professor at HEC Paris

Out of the over 100 submissions, three enterprises were selected to receive Blue Awards. Two of the key analytics of blue ocean strategy, the four actions framework and the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC Grid) were central here. While receiving their prizes, the winning SMEs were invited to testify and share with the audience the factors their offering eliminated, reduced, raised, and created to unlock a new blue ocean of new market space. For this purpose, the three teams presented their completed ERRC Grid to show how their offering is simultaneously pursues a leap in value for buyers and lower costs for companies to achieve the cornerstone of blue ocean strategy: Value innovation.

Blue Awards presenters

Blue Awards presenters & participants


Criteo: Enables online businesses to follow up visitors who have left their website without making a purchase using personalized banners which aim to drive potential customers back to the business website.

Leetchi: An ideal solution for collecting and managing money for groups. It is perfect for any occasion from birthdays to weddings and holidays.

Withings Smart Body Analyser: The Smart Body Analyzer measures weight, body composition, heart rate and air quality.


In addition to the three overall winners of the Blue Awards, six other SMEs won what the event termed ‘Baby Blue Awards.’ Baby Blue Awards were given to those young SMEs that the judges deemed as setting sail towards nascent blue oceans. The six Baby Blue Award winners are:

BOCO: High quality fast food made by Chefs and served in jars.

Microdon, L’Arrondi: The first multi-channel mechanism for embedded giving in France. It gives people a simple and painless way to make micro-donations part of their everyday lives: From their paycheques, at the checkout, on their bank statements, when making online purchases, and more.

Mymeetingsondemand: A full web application that allows you to control meetings effectively, facilitates effective collaboration and ensures follow-up actions are taken care of during and after.

Sense Mother: Mother and the Motion Cookies are a family of smart sensors that you can set in two minutes to perform the functions you want and that you can change as often as you need. Apps to help you feel better, gain peace of mind, know yourself and your environment, and make life easier.

StudyKa: Allows students from different backgrounds to collaborate on projects. Companies can access this talent pool by launching challenges on Studyka, which is a new way to bridge schools and companies. By doing that, companies get new ideas, different from those they are used to get internally. Students, on their side, can apply their skills and talent in a real-world setting and this can also help them find a job in these companies.

Unilend: Allows everyone to lend money to a selection of small and medium French companies and receive monthly interest.


The next annual Blue Awards is already in motion. Already 30 French SMEs have applied. It will be held on November 24, 2015. For those interested in participating, you can visit the Blue Awards website (only in French).

The Blue Ocean Strategy team congratulates all of the 2014 Blue Award winners and the organizers of the Blue Awards competition and event, AXESSIO and HEC Business School Paris.
To blue oceans ahead!

This article was originally published in INSEAD Knowledge on December 24, 2014.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in learning about Blue Ocean Competition, organized and run by high school students.