INCENSe: combining innovation with energy


Enel’s history of innovation is one that dates back to the birth of the company, involving all the areas of the energy sector in which it operates. Throughout the digital technology era, Enel has fully embraced an Open Innovation model, based on a paradigm of openness from and toward the “outside”. In today's global marketplace, innovation means looking outside our companies and forming strategic alliances aimed at creating a network of synergies and developing new products and services tailored to customer needs. The size of the organisation with which we choose to collaborate is irrelevant: what really counts is the quality of the projects.

With this idea in mind, we launched INCENSe (INternet Cleantech ENablers Spark), the acceleration programme for start-ups in the clean-tech industry. The initiative is coordinated by Enel and Endesa (our Spanish subsidiary) in collaboration with the Danish incubator Accelerace and the Spanish Funding Box, with support by the European Union, which has provided an eight million euro loan for the most promising energy efficiency proposals presented by European and Israeli startups. 

Projects by small and medium enterprises and individual entrepreneurs were classified under the following categories: Energy Efficiency & Home Automation, Renewable Energy, Renewable Forecasting Solutions, Smart Grids, Energy Storage, Advanced Diagnostic & Automation Solutions, e-Mobility, Cyber-Security and Digitalisation of Energy through ICT. An evaluation committee, composed of managers from the project’s partner companies, selected a total of 42 proposals from the first and second rounds of the competition.

The first open call, which ended in December 2014, had already achieved results beyond expectations for such a sector as that of the clean tech industry, with proposals from more than 230 startups in 31 countries. The 14 winning companies from the first open call completed the incubation programme last month, and about half of them are collaborating with INCENSe corporate partners to further develop their projects.

The second open call, which ended on September 30, 2015, received 257 proposals from 29 startups in Europe and Israel. A total of 28 projects were selected, joining the 14 winners of the first round. The startup winners of the second open call, hailing from 11 countries (Italy, Spain, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Finland, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom) were awarded at Enel’s headquarters in Rome. The event was attended by Enel CEO Francesco Starace and the Italian Minister of Labour and Social Policy Giuliano Poletti, among other representatives of the Italian government, and two representatives of the European Commission: the director of the Institute for Energy and Transport Giovanni De Santi and the Head of Sector for the FIWARE Programme Ragnar Bergstrom.

“With INCENSe, Enel confirms once again its commitment to support innovation, entrepreneurship as well as social and economic growth,” stated Francesco Starace. “The work that the winning startups will carry out during the acceleration period is aimed at developing players capable of creating effective solutions, as can be seen with the winners of the first open call, some of which are working on joint projects with Enel.”

The 42 winning companies have received a grant of up to 150,000 euros each (without obligation to participate in the share capital) and will receive support services offered by INCENSe partners to develop their projects, through a six-month acceleration programme, training sessions with experts from the industry, and tailored workshops on European funding programmes. The winners will also benefit from the experience and opportunities offered by the Enel Group – in terms of product manufacturing and services – thanks to the Group’s customer base and global presence.

“The INCENSe programme is a long path to innovation,” declared Enel’s director of Innovation and Sustainability Ernesto Ciorra on during the event. “The goal of INCENSe is to attract the best startups in the energy sector, because good ideas have no hierarchy, location, or nationality. The large number of applications that were received during INCENSe’s second open call demonstrates the appeal of Enel’s open innovation approach to the startup community.”

Further information on the INCENSe programme is available at To stay updated on our initiatives with and for startups, visit