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The Enel case study at INSEAD: Open Innovation and sustainability


Knowledge disappears if we do not share it. That’s why it’s very important to reach out and spread good practices and results in the innovation ecosystem; mostly, amongst new generations. Universities play an important role in disseminating experience and promoting discourse that generates new knowledge. Enel is aware of the importance of contributing to education as a core value of our Innovability® philosophy.

So, we were proud to be invited by INSEAD, one of the world's leading graduate business schools, to hold master classes as part of their mission to bring people, cultures and ideas together to develop responsible leaders to transform business and society. Ernesto Ciorra, Head of Innovability® at the Enel Group, and Fabio Tentori, Head of Enel’s Innovation Hubs, presented our innovation approach to students of INSEAD business school in Fontainebleau (France) and listened to the students’ viewpoints on how far this model can take us.

“Teaching our Open Innovation model at INSEAD has been a great and memorable experience. It was also inspiring to be to be challenged by some of the smartest students on the planet on how innovation can really deliver sustainable results to make the world a better place for all”, claims Tentori.

The focus of this collaborative course designed by INSEAD was to understand the strategic issues that managers face in the cross-border setting, and to use tools and frameworks to address these challenges. A key feature of the course was the analysis of detailed case studies and videos about companies from all over the world.


A case study of Open Innovation and Sustainability

How can global open innovation provide a competitive advantage? To try to answer this question Tentori presented the case study "ENEL's Innovability®: Global Open Innovation and Sustainability", written by Felipe Monteiro, Senior Affiliate Professor of Strategy at INSEAD and Senior Fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, and José Miguel García Benavente, INSEAD MBA 19J, with the collaboration of Enel’s management team and Tentori himself.

We believe that companies should be constantly striving to convert a multi-location presence into a source of competitive advantage. To achieve this, accessing and sharing knowledge within and across company boundaries is paramount. That requires integrating capabilities and worldwide knowledge from within the company’s subsidiary network as well as from outside sources.

That’s why, in the session given by Enel, Tentori examined the most advanced practices in global technology scouting and discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by companies pursuing a global open innovation strategy.

The session covered the current scenario in the Energy Industry and the megatrends concerning which Enel is at the forefront: the decarbonisation of energy production, electrification of large sectors of the economy, and the decentralisation of power generation. In this new era, as Enel CEO, Francesco Starace, has affirmed: “Sustainability is the goal; innovation is the tool”. This means a new culture, a new structure and the digitalisation of the processes at the core of the business. Tentori explained how Open Innovation is enabling us to achieve this goal.

As part of this model, we introduced the crowdsourcing platform OpenInnovability.com, where the company is able to share challenges from its business lines and look for solutions across the Innovation Ecosystem. Another key component of this model is the global network of innovation hubs that enables us to provide help to startups and SMEs by opening the doors of our laboratories and allocating resources to develop solutions.


Open Innovation, open knowledge

Open Innovation can be described as combining internal and external ideas and solutions to address business challenges, and the only way to do this in such a globalised and digitalised world is through collaboration. And collaboration means sharing.

As we touched on before, sharing knowledge with new generations is essential to contribute to a better world. Enel is committed to doing just that. Summing up, Tentori explained: “We are proud to contribute to shaping the next generation of leaders to prioritise innovation and sustainability, and to show them how we fight climate change”.