In a fast-changing environment, the species that survives is not the strongest: it is the one that is best able to adapt. This is what Charles Darwin postulated in his famous On the Origin of Species. And these words best sum up the discussion at the third meeting with Enel Focus On, the traveling roundtable of influencers and digital experts, held in San Francisco on March 7 to share ideas about the future that awaits us. The event was moderated by Chris Anderson, former Director of the US monthly magazine Wired and founder of successful start-ups.
The occasion of the meeting and the topic that opened the debate was the inauguration - just a few hours earlier - of the Enel Innovation Hub at the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco. It is the Californian branch of an incubator for tech start-ups that is being set up to allow Enel, a large energy multinational, to identify and select talents that can make a difference along its innovation path. In a market like that of energy that is evolving at such a dizzying pace, it is crucial to diversify activities to grow and therefore, as Darwin wrote, to survive.
“At the beginning of the twentieth century, competition on the market was fundamentally between one company against another company,” said Chris Anderson. “Over the decades, it has transformed into a competition of one product against another. Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, ecosystems are contending the market against other ecosystems. We have therefore come to a point where no large company can hope to be competitive if it does not build an ecosystem around itself, i.e., a network consisting mainly of technologies and brains from outside the company".
“For a company, an ecosystem is a magnet of talents. Talents, in turn, bring their creative obsession to the company. And obsession is the vital factor to produce innovation”
Chris Anderson, CEO 3D Robotics
The keyword is opening. And it inspires Open Power, the vision behind Enel's development strategy which - as explained at Enel Focus On by Ryan O'Keeffe, the Group’s Director of Communications - is based on five different pillars: “Open energy to more people, open energy to new technologies, open up new ways of managing energy for people, open up new users for energy and open up to more partnerships".
“It is impossible to think that the Open Power strategy can be pursued without opening the doors of the company to the best talents available in the world today”
Ryan O'Keeffe, Enel Director of Communications
Because “the brightest minds never work for you,” stressed Chris Anderson, “and therefore you must look for them outside your company. And the best way to do this is to create a platform to know them, to make yourself known, and to draw talents and creativity to you. This is precisely what Enel is doing with its Innovation Hub”.
According to Jonathan Salem Baskin, an innovation expert among the participants at the round table, “Enel is showing that it has a unique approach to the issue of innovation. It is a concept which is easy to discuss, but putting it into practice is quite another thing. So, Enel is pursuing it by doing the hard work, so to speak, which is not only to be open to new ideas, but also to develop them, making them become reality, products, and tangible objects, and finally finding a market for them".
At the end of the debate Ernesto Ciorra, Director of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel, stated, “Over the last two years, we have selected more than 1500 start-ups around the world. With 280 of these, we have started an industrial development plan, and with 80 we have implemented just as many projects for products or services. Each of those projects has been an important step along the path of innovation. In some cases, a giant step that we would not have been able to make alone".