In October 1917 Russia seized control of its own future with a revolution. Exactly one century later, again in October, the country is set to take part in another momentous event, this time concerning innovation. This was the key word at the forum Open Innovations 2017 that was held from 16 to 18 October in Moscow in the futuristic complex of the Skolkovo Technopark. In this very structure on Tuesday 17 our Group officially opened its new Innovation Hub, which follows just a few months on from the opening of the Hub in San Francisco. The Hub is the latest centre in an international network that is continuously expanding and that we have established in order to attract talented minds from all over the world to work with us to create the innovation necessary for the development of the company.
“Skolkovo is a fully-fledged ecosystem, the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley,” explained our CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace, “the result of a great effort by the Russian government to bring together -in one single location- universities, laboratories and startups in such a way as to create a critical mass: it is a genuine city of innovation. For us it is an excellent opportunity to draw on all the technological innovation that Russia can express. We can stimulate the creative thinking of a great number of talented minds, asking them to apply their inventiveness to our needs.”
Starace was in Moscow to inaugurate the Innovation Hub, but also to sign a series of partnership agreements, including some with the Skolkovo Foundation and the Skolkovo Business School, the latter signing was attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitrij Medvedev.
“The fact that premier Medvedev had wanted to attend in person to underline his commitment to innovation,” explained Ernesto Ciorra, Head of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel, “for us sent an important message demonstrating that Russia is a country where innovation is not limited to just discussions but is pursued with all of the available energy. This becomes even more significant when the innovation in question enables us to make great leaps forward in the field of sustainability, thus contributing to preserving the planet.”
“For some, innovation is synonymous with revolution. For us this is not the case, it simply means evolution: something that we must understand and pursue as quickly as possible. We want to keep pace with the evolution of technology that is taking place in the world and, if possible, anticipate it, identifying problems in advance and finding their solutions”
Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager of Enel
"The Innovation Hubs serve precisely this purpose,” continued Starace. “We identify the problems that we want to solve in order to achieve our business targets, from energy efficiency to smart grids, from the Internet of Things to renewables, in an increasingly effective way. If we find someone that demonstrates that they are capable of doing this, we help bring financing to the development of their idea – while contributing with our know-how – in order to help apply the concept on an industrial scale.”
In other words, a fully-fledged partnership generating benefits for both parties, just like the agreements that our group has signed with 80 startups since 2016. Russian Deputy Minister for Energy Alexey Teksler, as he cut the red ribbon alongside Starace to officially open the Innovation Hub, announced, “We very much appreciate that with this initiative Enel is confirming its interest in the Russian market and its commitment to our country.”
Since innovation moves quickly and keeping pace means also backing up talk with action, on 18 October, a few hours after cutting the ribbon, our Innovation Hub in Skolkovo held its first boot camp. The representatives of ten start-ups, selected in advance from a shortlist of 100, presented their innovative ideas in the field of Infrastructure and Networks. This is just the beginning of a series of similar events, each dedicated to innovation in a particular sector, planned for the months ahead. Coming next is renewable energy, because seeking out innovation means also finding brand new formulas of sustainability and exploring new approaches in order that we can pass on a better planet to the generations to come. One hundred years have passed but the future is still to be written.