In order to survive, the human body needs to constantly change. This change can take place gradually or extremely fast: we must only consider that the skin of our lips changes every two hours. Similarly, in the current global market, a company no longer innovates to ‘only’ move a step forward, but because it’s the only way to keep on existing. In fact, innovation is a force with a dark side, capable of driving companies off the market or forcing them to change their business, but also full of potentially unlimited opportunities.
Enel is historically a leader in this field: from the electronic meter (a world record, introduced in 2001) to hybrid renewable plants and storage systems. In order to continue along this road and anticipate its customers’ changing needs, the electricity multinational has embraced the Open Innovation model, based on a paradigm of openness from and towards the outside. Openness in all respects, from startups to big companies, from universities to research centres and projects of individual innovators. The size of the organisations with which it collaborates is not important: only the quality of the proposed projects counts.
The year that has just ended has seen Enel in the front line in promoting and supporting initiatives aimed at backing the growth of talents and the development of cutting-edge products and services, in particular in the field of clean technology.
In May, Enel announced that it had joined the Startup Europe Partnership (SEP), the pan-European platform created to support the most interesting continental startups. The programme, launched in 2014 in Davos by the European Commission, includes not only corporate members, but also investment funds (the European Investment Fund, part of the European Investment Bank Group, as well as dozens of funds and accelerators from all over Europe), and some of the most important European Universities (Cambridge University, IE Business School and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society). SEP has achieved an intense mapping activity of the European startup and scale-up ecosystem: so far eight Monitors have been set up by the Startup Europe Partnership, showing the main trends and peculiarities of a number of national scenarios.
In November the second call of the INCENSe (Internet Cleantech ENablers Spark) business accelerator for clean technology companies took place. The programme – supported by the European Union and coordinated by Enel and Endesa, partnered with the Danish incubator Accelerace and the Spanish one FundingBox – produced 257 applications from 30 countries in its second call. Proposals ranged from energy efficiency to home automation, from renewables to smart grids, from storage to electric mobility. The 28 selected startups, together with the other 14 that had won the call in 2014, will receive a non-repayable grant amounting to 150,000 euros and will have access to a six-month acceleration programme, supported by companies of the Enel Group.
A new important programme for startups – Energy Start – has been launched in Latin America, starting from Chile and Brazil.
In Italy, Enel sponsored the Open Summit “StartupItalia! 2015” for innovators who have contributed to the country’s growth. In December; more than one thousand young new entrepreneurs and one hundred startups from across Italy met in Milan to award a prize to the best startup of the year.
Finally, last year London hosted the 2015 edition of the TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual convention for cutting-edge startups in the technological field. The event, which has taken place since 2011 in various cities across the world – from San Francisco to New York, from London to Beijing – was created by the American blog TechCrunch, the most read in the world in the field of technology and computing, with more than 35 million monthly visitors. Enel sponsored the event and was present with a stand.
2015 was a very prosperous year in this field also for the Enel Group Spanish subsidiary Endesa. Las ideas se mueven (Ideas move), launched in a partnership with the Fundación Universidad Empresa (FUE), is a contest addressing students under 26 years of age who attend universities or professional training centres in Cataluña, that promotes creativity in the electricity field, in order to meet the challenges of environmental and social sustainability. Additionally, Endesa launched its first Hackaton, a call for the development of cutting-edge solutions enabling customers to make the best use of energy. The most outstanding 40 projects were presented at a two-day event held in Madrid at the end of November. To support these initiatives the company developed the Endesa Energy Challenges (www.endesaenergychallenges.com) platform, showing the company’s commitment to Open Innovation and its focus on the growth of talents in the field of innovation.