Enel has inaugurated its second Innovation Hub at the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco. It is a talent incubator which, following the one in Tel Aviv, will open the door for the energy multinational to the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the largest centres of technological innovation in the world, just a few miles away from the headquarters of Facebook, in Menlo Park, and Google, in Mountain View.
The idea, as in the case of the accelerator in Tel Aviv and of those that Enel plans to open by the end of the year in other countries, is to explore the world of local technology start-ups (not necessarily limited to the energy sector) from an exclusive vantage point to select and start collaborations with the most promising ones. The goal is to open the company to the infinite opportunities for growth that may be hidden in the galaxy of ideas, creativity, and projects that are still at an embryonic stage or hidden in a drawer somewhere in Silicon Valley. It is a road without curves and without speed limits to innovate, and thus to become increasingly stronger and more competitive on the market.
“Connecting the dots”
The new incubator at Berkeley (opened at the Citris Foundry, a university lab that works on dozens of projects every month) will draw the most interesting start-ups for Enel.
“Yet another piece of a global ecosystem which, once completed, will enable us to bring together talents to create a network where ideas can take shape, be exchanged from one part of the planet to the other and be quickly developed: in other words, a structure that, to use Steve Jobs’ famous words, will allow us to connect the dots”
Ernesto Ciorra, Director of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel
As stated by the Group’s Director of Communications, Ryan O'Keeffe, Enel has no intention of buying the start-ups that it will select: the plan is to provide for acceleration through support by company engineers and technicians. If after the support received, the start-up manages to develop a useful product, at that point Enel will be the first to assess the possibility of buying it.
But what does “connecting the dots” mean in actual fact? Ciorra explained by providing a telling example: “Years ago, we got in touch with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to understand if there was a way to combine geothermal energy with solar energy in a single power plant to maximise the energy potential of a location that offered the right conditions. Some time later, the way to do it came from one of the start-ups we had selected and accelerated, and more importantly at much lower costs. Today that project has become a reality: it is called Stillwater and it is located in the Nevada desert, in the United States. It is the first plant of its kind in the world.”