In just over two years, our international network has extended to 10 Innovation Hubs, and we plan to add more. Four of them are in ecosystems that are synonymous with innovation: San Francisco and Boston (USA), Tel Aviv (Israel) and the Skolkovo Technopark, a high technology innovation business area just outside Moscow (Russia). Others have been set up in areas where we have a strong commercial presence: Madrid (Spain), which coordinates our other European hubs, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Santiago (Chile). We have also opened three Hub&Labs in Italy where innovation and research are interlinked: in the Passo Marino laboratories in Catania, which are at the cutting edge in technological applications in the renewables field; in Pisa, Italy’s scientific research capital; and in Milan, to develop research in grid and infrastructural technologies.
An Innovation Hub is a physical space in which startups can present their projects to our Innovation Managers, as well as to each other. So far 7,000 or so startups have contacted us and we have set 260 projects in motion. More than 50 of them are already in the commercialisation stage. The hubs are also able to work with each other and bring new experiences into the mix. This means that ideas emerging from the ecosystems can achieve an exponential boost in visibility.
We offer our selected startups all the tools they need to help their businesses take off: technological consultancy with the relevant experts (both in-house and from outside the Group), access to our network of partners (including investors) and the opportunity to test innovative ideas in our laboratories and facilities. In this way they can move to the scale-up phase with a potential market that includes the entire Enel Group and its partners, customers and suppliers. In recent years, thanks to startups, we have created many innovative products: such as a safety jacket with its own airbag for our technicians working in the field, an audio/video conversion system in our call centres for the visually-impaired, and a hydrogen system for electricity storage that we built in Cerro Pabellón in Chile.