There is no doubt that innovation is now receiving the recognition it deserves, and Open Innovation (OI) is arguably its very best iteration. Big corporations know this and are getting involved through initiatives and projects both inside and outside their organisations. At the other end of the scale, for new enterprises and startups, OI represents both the rationale for and the basis of their business. What’s more, with this open approach they have the possibility to grow together with corporations to the benefit of all.
Understanding the importance of such collaborations, the European Commission Startup Europe Partnership set up an awards programme to acknowledge those companies that have had a genuine impact on European startups. The latter have nominated the most active corporates in open innovation and Enel’s work in this field has not gone unnoticed.
Our corporation has been recognised as Europe’s most active company in Open Innovation, receiving the 2019 Corporate Startup Stars Award for topping the ranking of strategically structured companies that produce concrete results in terms of collaboration with startups.
Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability® Officer at Enel, was present to receive the award. “This could not be possible without the commitment and support of our CEO, Francesco Starace. This award goes to him and to our colleagues who work in the Global Business Lines and in the Markets, in the Global Digital unit and in the other divisions that support our innovation every day: People and Organisation, Legal, AFC, Communications, Audit and European Institutional Affairs.”
A heartfelt belief in Open Innovation
This accolade is the result of a long journey and the efforts of those involved have been driven by a determination and profound belief in the benefits of Open Innovation. Over the past four years we have been strategically growing our global network of Innovation Hubs in order to ensure maximum reach within the innovation ecosystem.
Today, we are proud to say we have a global presence with 9 hubs in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Chile (Santiago), Israel (Tel Aviv), Italy (Milan, Catania, Pisa), Spain (Madrid), and the United States (Boston, San Francisco), where we scout for startups with significant potential in terms of technologies and business models relevant to Enel’s work. Amongst these, particular fields of activity include energy storage, big data, energy management, smart home solutions, electric mobility, IoT, predictive maintenance, artificial intelligence, smart technologies and robotics.
As Starace explained, this accolade proves that we are doing good work: “These awards once again confirm our innovation leadership. Back in 2015, we introduced our open innovation approach, coupling Innovation and Sustainability, which at the time seemed like quite an odd combination.” The result has been “a phenomenal synergic effect that has created value for us and our stakeholders, including the startups and the communities around us,” he added.
During this time, Enel has received around 10,000 collaboration proposals, 6,500 of which were from startups, resulting in a total of approximately 650 projects being implemented, of which around 250 were with startups. But we are not stopping here: “Looking ahead, we will increase our open innovation efforts to turn Enel into a fully digital, platform-based company with the ultimate aim of maximising the value generated by the energy transition and the electrification of end uses.”
A significant international award
The 2019 Europe Corporate Startup Stars annual ranking is produced by the innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge and innovation foundation Nesta as part of the European Commission’s Startup Europe Partnership initiative. The awards were announced on 10 December during the SEP Scaleup Summit organised at the Bolsa de Madrid (Spain). In total 36 European companies received awards: 12 as Europe’s Corporate Startup Stars and 24 as Europe’s Open Innovation Challengers.
The companies that receive the SEP Corporate Startup Stars awards are those that have established the most successful, mutually-beneficial partnerships with startups, whether through procurement, licensing, partnerships, accelerators, direct investment, acquisitions or other dedicated programs.
Enel is an extremely active participant in this essential ecosystem. Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, elaborated, “A sustainable ecosystem of innovation in Europe requires both startups capable of growing in size and internationally, as well as established corporates with the capacity to innovate. Under such conditions corporate-startup collaboration benefits both sides. That’s why initiatives such as SEP Europe’s Corporate Startup Stars are important to showcase best practices and role models.” At Enel, we are proud of being an active example of these best practices.