The Tango of Innovation

Published on Thursday, 11 May 2017

“Only by renouncing our habits, the rules that reassure us every day can we open ourselves to the new and to the change needed to improve”

– Ernesto Ciorra, Director of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel

The initiative aims to promote a circular approach to innovation, starting from inside ourselves and looking out, promoting scouting actions in a reality in which the energy market has a great potential for development.

Ciorra was joined on the stage of the Konex cultural centre in Buenos Aires by Estanislao Bachrach, an Argentine neuroscientist, researcher at Harvard for several years now and author of “The Agile Mind,” who illustrated the key instruments, models and concepts of neuroscience in the creative process, inviting participants to understand innovation within organisations. By stimulating the spirit of collaboration and encouraging people to adopt a different approach, it is possible to create the conditions for innovation. To follow the steps, to stop and start again by changing rhythm.

Working on oneself to not stop at the rules. This is the message: an invitation to dream, to believe in one's own ideas and to understand that in every field you can be creative and innovative.

“To be creative, the first thing to do is to break the rules”

– Estanislao Bachrach, neuroscientist and writer

Innovation and Latin American rhythms

During the event in Buenos Aires, Ciorra presented the main innovation projects of our Group which are the fruit of a model open to ideas, people and new technologies. This means that with a combination of passion, knowledge and hard work, what seems impossible today can become possible tomorrow.

That's why Enel has streamlined internal procedures to promote collaboration with startups, university research centres, and innovative companies and fosters partnerships with accelerators, incubators and investors in the countries where it operates to help these realities grow and create value.

Specific Open Innovation programmes have been launched in Latin America with this objective. The goal is not only to grasp the best ideas for energy technologies, but to discover new areas to interact with, creating new languages and services.

An example of this model is the Energy Start programme through which we have created a virtuous relationship with Chilean and Brazilian start-ups, resulting in several successful projects. These include, for example in Chile, the collaboration with Uanbai, a startup that has developed a payment service using social networks. It is called #Pago and since October 2015, over 1,400 customers of Enel Distribución Chile have been using it to pay bills via Twitter and Facebook. Another initiative in the field of social networks is the Chattigo experiment. It is a web platform that aims to simplify communication with customers using automatic messaging, i.e., social bots, in a secure manner. The service uses the twitter account of Enel Distribución Chile and offers customers support and encoded replies in case of failures and emergencies. Then there is the collaboration promoted with the startup Zembia which is working on the development of an application tailored for our smart meters, to allow users to monitor and compare their energy consumption, receiving notifications and services.

Another example of Open Innovation in South America sees the employees of our subsidiary in Colombia (Codensa) playing a leading role in the initiative Electric Sharing - ECO CAR: a pilot project that gives our people the opportunity to “own” an electric vehicle, collecting and sharing data on the driving of electric vehicles, on the distances travelled after each recharge, on the duration of recharge, on the operation of the charging stations and on consumption.

Initiatives and programmes to probe the fabric of innovation have been launched in all the countries in which we operate. This is the spirit with which we are building a network of Enel Innovation Hubs around the world: they are genuine centres of creativity and technology, to always be in direct contact with ideas. After the one inaugurated in July 2016 in Tel Aviv, Israel, one of the places with the highest concentration of innovation in the world, the Innovation Hub of San Francisco, in Silicon Valley, was opened in March.

The next destination is Asia, by developing an expanded network to be coordinated by the Innovation and Sustainability function in continuous contact with the other business lines and units of the company. It is the interface needed to make the first step even to the rhythm of tango.