Open Innovation, creating value through collaboration

Published on Monday, 14 November 2016

Opening to networks of innovators in order to identify the most efficient technological solutions. Enel's culture of innovation described at the Innovation Roundtable Summit in Copenhagen.

The ability to open up and seize the most disrupting innovations is essential to keep up with a rapidly changing business such as that of energy. This is why Enel launched a renovation path over a year ago, expanding the flexibility of its organisation and its business. An evolution process centered on the adoption of an open innovation model.

“We have adopted this approach, in order to create more value, by engaging an external ecosystem of partners such as startups, SMEs, corporations, industry leaders, universities, R&D centers, institutions and local communities, and internally into the company engaging with our colleagues”. Manager Open Innovation and Project Portfolio – Innovation and Sustainability Department - Daniela Ferraro explained this approach at the meeting promoted by our Company together with the InnoCentive platform, within the Innovation Roundtable Summit 2016 that took place in Copenhagen from 8th to 10th November.

“We achieved this cultural change in our approach to innovation by opening up to tools and initiatives aimed at disseminating and feeding the circuit of new business opportunities and technology solutions. And Enel has selected InnoCentive among the various innovation brokers and started this collaboration in this context of new technology solutions”, Ferraro went on to say. 

The applied model launches a competition between universities, research centres, startups and innovators that, contending on the “challenges” submitted by the large companies enter real business circuits, generating value from their own skills. 

For Enel this meant shifting from a traditional to an open research and development model. Ferraro emphasised that “the main benefits of practicing an Open Innovation approach consist in the possibility of enriching further our technology portfolio, the ability to find competencies on an as-needed basis, the increased speed of the innovation process”.

Based on the new approach over the last year we launched nine challenges, searching for innovative solutions to problems mostly related to renewable energy, as well as operation and maintenance of networks and plants. Eight of them have been successfully solved, engaging over 1000 innovators from 20 countries and receiving more than 300 proposals.

“Our experience with this targeted programme – Ferraro concluded – was effective, confirming the organisation’s ability to integrate the new open innovation model leveraging on the cross contamination of expertise and on solutions coming from different industrial sectors.