Graduate - Master of Science and Environmental Policy
My goal is to make a major societal impact by transforming carpooling into a true public service.
At 33, Thomas Matagne is a committed entrepreneur. Long interested in the challenges of the ecological transition, he created the startup Ecov in 2014 to make carpooling a true public service.
In 2005, you joined the first class of the double degree in Science and Social Sciences before undertaking a master's degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy. What memories do you have of this double degree program in partnership with Sciences Po?
I have very fond memories of it. I had been motivated by sustainable development issues for a long time, and this course corresponded exactly to what I wanted to do: better understand environmental issues from a scientific point of view in order to develop concrete and relevant solutions for public action.
The undergraduate courses offered at Sciences Po and at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Sorbonne University were of a very high level. The master's degree then allowed me to acquire the specific skills needed to achieve my professional project.
In 2014, you created ECOV, a startup dedicated to carpooling solutions for peri-urban and rural areas. How did this project come about?
After five years spent working in the Île-de-France region, and then at the Ministry of Sustainable Development on energy transition issues, I noticed that public action lacked innovation in concretely responding to ecological challenges.
With an average occupancy rate of only 1.3 people per vehicle, the car, for me, posed a real public policy issue. However, no action was being taken to optimize this mode of transportation. I therefore decided to create Ecov, a startup that is part of the social and solidarity economy with the ambition of turning the individual car into a new form of public transport.
What solutions does ECOV offer?
In rural or suburban areas, often lacking public transport, Ecov deploys carpooling lines comparable to bus lines. We analyze traffic flows to determine the roads where there is a large flow of drivers. On these roads, we identify places of interest, such as a gymnasium, to create a carpooling stop.
The user then simply goes to the nearest stop and enters his destination (on the spot or via the application). This information is displayed on a lit panel, allowing drivers who are passing by and heading in the same direction to see the request and take them to the desired stop. And all this with a wait time of a few minutes or less.
What do you envision for the future?
My goal is to have a major societal impact by making carpooling a true public service. With 15 sites already set up in France and 15,000 registered users, we want to progressively cover all regions that require this type of service. To achieve this, we are focusing on research, development and data sciences. In fact, we have recruited a CIFRE doctoral candidate from among the thirty or so Ecov employees who is doing their thesis in an applied mathematics laboratory at Sorbonne University.
Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2019
On January 31, Thomas Matagne was named "Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2019" by the Boston Consulting Group. Each year, this award recognizes two entrepreneurs who bring innovative and sustainable solutions to strong social and environmental issues. The winners benefit from a consulting mission to help their project expand in scale and consolidate their strategic choices.