Théophile Lenoir – Out of the Data Stone Era

Théophile Lenoir, head of the digital programme at the Institut Montaigne.

Paris is not only the city of love and savoir-vivre, but also a think tank for a better future. A few weeks ago, the French capital introduced a 30-kilometre-per-hour speed limit to encourage more sustainable traffic, and more innovations of this kind are expected to follow. Just a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe is the Institut Montaigne, an influential private-sector economic policy think tank.

Academics, experts from science and business, citizens and representatives from government circles work together on studies and international comparative statistics to analyse social coexistence, competitiveness and the optimisation of government spending. Théophile Lenoir, head of the institute’s digital program, is particularly concerned with the interactions between the labour market, digitalization, and data. His goal is to modernize the management of digital technologies and transform France’s digital public space.

Lenoir is not only a digitization expert, but also a communications scholar and a passionate violinist in his private life. After successfully graduating from the London School of Economics, he studied journalism in South Carolina (USA) and worked in start-ups at the interface between media and technology.

With his work, he wants to find answers to previously unanswered questions: Who needs to access what data for what purpose ? And how can you get worlds that don’t talk to each other to work together? “This is the challenge cities face to get out of the data stone age. The health situation in particular has highlighted the importance of communication between stakeholders and information systems.”

However, the tough assessment of political action is also part of Lenoir’s business: in October, together with his colleague Gilles Babinet, he will take stock of Emmanuel Macron’s digital promises and their fulfilment during his term in office.

Lenoir shows how to present itself as a modern think tank and also reach younger generations. For example, with short YouTube clips in smartphone format. Among other things, he talks about how to deal with platforms (such as delivery and chauffeur services), which have created a new working environment and thus new problems: “The platform economy does not provide social security for employees.”

To change this, the Montaigne Institute has conducted the first statistical survey on bicycle couriers to understand the challenges of these new forms of work and propose solutions. The focus is on developing a responsible economy that respects workers’ interests and is sustainable in the long term. Giorgia Grimaldi


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