Two large rooms in a white and glowing building in the San Blas area just a short stroll from the offices of the Spanish daily El País, to attract the best of Spanish and Portuguese innovation and all of its creative potential.
The new Enel Innovation Hub that we have opened in Madrid follows on just a few months after the opening of the hubs in San Francisco and Moscow. It is the latest focal point that joins a continuously expanding network of our ideas laboratories spread all over the world to attract the top talents around and to apply their creative skills to the Group’s requirements in terms of sustainable innovation.
The Enel Innovation Hub in Madrid is located inside The Cube, the building that houses one of the vastest ecosystems of Spanish innovation, created specifically to bring startups into contact with multinationals. The Hub serves to identify talents and lay down a challenge: to work together to build the foundations of a more sustainable future. The achievement of this goal is doubly linked to renewable energy, to new ways to generating it and storing it that we may not be able to see yet but we might just be able to imagine. This is an essential step because as Albert Einstein wrote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Enel Innovation Hubs aim to create innovation not only in the energy sector, but in all areas that we consider significant for our business plans, beginning with digitalization, from the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations and to which the Group is deeply committed, to the cornerstone of a customer-centric approach and, above all, to the Internet of Things (IoT).
“The objective for this Madrid site is not just to be a hub for Spanish innovation,” explained Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability Officer at Enel (the concept of Innovability represents a fusion of Innovation and Sustainability), “but rather a global hub for innovation concerning the IoT, because in this sector the Spanish ecosystem is incredibly rich and there are some exceptional talents. For us, developing the IoT is an extremely important step, one which enables us to make the management of power plants more efficient, improve relationships with our staff and customers and design new business models.”
Attending the opening ceremony was the Italian ambassador in Madrid Stefano Sannino, who described the event as being “so important that I decided to invite myself before Enel had the chance to ask me.”
During the speeches prior to the cutting of the ribbon, Ciorra’s words were echoed by José Bogas Gálvez, the CEO of Endesa, subsidiary of the Enel Group and leader in the electricity market in Spain and Portugal. “Today is a great day for us,” he said, “because with the opening of this space Enel is demonstrating its desire to support our commitment to innovation. The company is changing at an incredible speed, today provides a clear signal of Enel’s determination to be ready to face the challenges of the future, with new ideas for a completely new reality.”
How innovation is born
The formula followed by our Innovation Hubs is simple: if an idea has the potential to lead to an innovative development in one of the fields of interest for Enel, then the startup that has proposed the project is inserted into an acceleration plan. We finance and accompany the startup with our own engineers and technicians in order to develop in a short space of time the product, which we will purchase in order to apply on an industrial scale.
“When an idea is valid,” explained Ciorra, “for us it is very easy to present it to one of over 20 venture capitalists with whom we work around the world and convince them to invest in it.”
"At the same time, our managers act as mentors, offering their expertise that, combined with the creative skills of those who do not work inside our company and who might therefore have a fresher and more visionary approach, creates the ideal conditions to innovate rapidly and at the highest level"
Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability Officer of Enel
This is the case for Wallbox and Momit. Representatives of the two startups described to those attending the event how the genesis of an industrial partnership with Endesa translated into the development of a highly efficient miniature recharging plant for electric cars and a household thermostat that is among the most advanced on the market.
The day’s activities did not end with the cutting of the ribbon but continued in the afternoon as work began immediately at the Enel Innovation Hub. Six startups selected in advance in Spain and Portugal participated in the first boot camp in Madrid, presenting their projects with a three-minute pitch. Six ideas so original that they seem almost impossible, sharing a common purpose: to save energy resources in sectors where everything has already been attempted and continuing to try might appear to be pointless.
As everybody knows, the seemingly impossible remains so until someone comes along and does it. Apparently, Einstein said this too.