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PROTOBUS – innovation on the move

By: Lesley Brown 1 June 2017 no comments

PROTOBUS – innovation on the move

Unveiled on May 30, PROTOBUS is an 18-metre-long bus transformed into a mobile platform for showcasing digital and connected innovation.


A joint initiative by the Paris Saclay Development Agency and French public transport group Transdev, PROTOBUS seeks to get everyone – start-ups, public authorities, companies, associations, and the public at large – involved in the innovation coming out of the research-tech-business-university cluster at Paris-Saclay, south of the French capital.

One of the world’s top research clusters, Paris-Saclay (or ‘Silicon Valley à la française’) is home to public and private research facilities, universities, and French higher education institutions (grandes écoles).

PROTOBUS is a mobile platform with ideas on board, said project director, says project director Ronan James (pictured in cover photo). It will enable people to discover the ecosystem of the cluster.


To showcase the no-limits innovations, the vehicle has been transformed into several dedicated areas:

FabLab: 3D printer, laser cutting, ideation kits, connected objects… access to cutting-edge creative techniques  plus equipment for initiating visitors into digital production

PROTOBUS_tech on board

LivingLab: video and touch screens, self-expression boards… tools and methods for gathering feedback from visitors

Showroom: a space that can be customised for discussions, meetings, and special happenings


PROTOBUS encourages emerging collaborative business models and privileged relationships with fundersWAI BNP

PROTOBUS_team work space
Behind the scenes, Lionel Luksch and Jérôme Pasteur from Equipe-Vehicules, together with Geoffrey Riberry from Collectif BAM were responsible for revamping the standard public transport bus into PROTOBUS

Summer tour 2017

8-10 June – Futur en Seine – La Villette, Paris

12 June – Futur en Seine – IUT d’Orsay, Orsay

15 June – Futur en Seine – Massy RER station

15 June – DRIM’in Saclay – EDF Lab, Palaiseau

Sept-Oct – Maison de l’Architecture, Paris

Said Mr James: PROTOBUS will soon be on the road to undertake new projects across its territory, and so continue expanding and enriching its community.

PROTOBUS_external small

Ideas on the move

For Transdev, which operates buses in this particular region south of Paris, PROTOBUS is an opportunity to affirm its dual role of keeping both people and ideas on the move.

As an operator of all mobility modes, it’s vital Transdev supports the building up, diffusion, and reach of new ideas, said Christophe Boissier, deputy managing director, Zone Ile-de-France, Transdev.

PROTOBUS_info boards

Future forward

Paris-Saclay is expected to massively expand in the coming years, largely due to the Grand Paris Express.

Scheduled to open in 2024, Line 18 of this new-build automatic metro will open up more attractive public transport access to the cluster (currently served by the RER commuter network and a complicated suite of buses). It will reduce the current  60-minute+ journey time from Paris centre to around 30 minutes, and link the site up with other strategic hubs (Orly, Versailles) in Greater Paris..