It's official: the winner of the Degroof Petercam 2020 Foundation is Bayes Impact, a technology start-up with a social vocation created by 27-year-old Paul Duan.
Paul Duan, a portrait of a visionary
Genius, talented, revolutionary, geek? How would you describe Paul Duan, a specialist in algorithms and artificial intelligence? His education and skills paved the way for a promising career in Silicon Valley. Yet Paul decided to dedicate his talent to the common good and became a social entrepreneur. He returned to France and founded Bayes Impact, a company that aims to use technology to solve societal problems. Quickly other talented minds, who are also on the wish list of global technology giants, came in. He immediately sets the bar sky-high: to solve the unemployment in France. He launches 'Bob', a website that uses artificial intelligence to help people in their job search in a personalised way, and - thanks to some powerful logarithms - at a lower cost.
A compelling business model
The Degroof Petercam Foundation and Bayes Impact meet for the first time in 2018. One year later, they receive the Foundation's second prize, which includes training to accelerate their growth in partnership with the European Investment Bank. The purpose is to obtain a pilot contract with Actiris in Brussels. One thing led to another, and in 2019, they were once again in the running for the Foundation's Grand Prix. "We had started to offer our Bob site directly to job seekers and reached 150,000 people in France. A nice number, but it is not enough on a regional or national scale. That's why we adapted and focus on the public sector. We offer a partnership to the public sector to reinvent their services using new technologies. This is where the impact can become exponential," says Duan. Their progress is striking, and it won over the jury and took the lead in the competition last February.
We offer a partnership to the public sector to reinvent their services through new technologies. This way, the impact can become exponential.
The mission of the Foundation
The Degroof Petercam Foundation, which specialises in social innovation for employment, chooses to select and support one project per year on which it focuses its efforts and funding. Therefore, Bayes Impact will receive one million euros spread out over five years to allocated to the expansion. This project was chosen for its potential to become a real partner of the Degroof Petercam Foundation: they share the same vision of a fairer and more inclusive society, they demonstrate exceptional entrepreneurial qualities and an ability to innovate.
The selection process of the Degroof Petercam Foundation lasts ten months and begins with a phase of nominations by philanthropy professionals. The nominated organisations then go through an automated selection process, resulting in 30 candidates whose files are analysed by three people from the Foundation and ten selected projects visited in the field. This 'due diligence' ends with a pre-selection of six finalists presented to an external jury who chooses the winner and two additional laureates. Lisa Hehenberger, Director of the Esade Entrepreneurship Institute in Barcelona and an expert in social entrepreneurship at the European Commission and the OECD, chaired this year's panel.