“The Covid-19 emergency has shown us just how important innovation is. We had first-hand experience of this within our Group. It was the innovative work that we'd previously undertaken that enabled us to be so resilient and to continue operating all around the world.”
That is how Fernando Sandoval, manager of Madrid-based Innovation Hub Europe, opened his presentation at South Summit Madrid. The meeting took place between 6 and 8 October and, to take account of the pandemic, was organised using a digital format and designed to be like a television programme.
South Summit is a global innovation platform that aims to connect some of the most promising startups with the most innovative global companies. Through our subsidiary Endesa, our Group this year has once again been among the leaders in sharing with startups the way it innovates and collaborates, even during this extraordinary period that's been dominated by the pandemic.
Together with representatives from other energy and investment companies and in the context of the Energy & Sustainability track, Sandoval discussed the energy transition and the potential effects of the pandemic on this process. “Covid-19 has underlined the fact that we must accelerate the energy transition process and we're certain we'll be able to count on startups to reach this objective.”
According to Sandoval, if we're to develop innovative solutions on an ever-larger scale, partnerships with young emerging companies are going to be essential: “Startups bring their speed, flexibility and, above all, their technological capabilities to the table, as well as their understanding of the market and new trends when defining new business models” he explained.
In Europe the most interesting and promising startups are currently growing and developing in the field of solutions in artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies. These are playing a key role in the digitalisation and automation of the energy sector, as well as in the development of new services and business models.
Innovation can spring up anywhere
Our Group has been able to take full advantage of the innovative ecosystem that exists in southern Europe, identifying and working with outstanding startups from Spain, Portugal and France, just as we've successfully done for a number of years with emerging Italian companies. “It's true that there are also important ecosystems in other continents, like Israel or Silicon Valley, as well as in Europe, like London and Paris, but in recent years we've come to understand that there are disruptive innovators everywhere. The cultural, market and legislative diversity that characterises Europe can be advantageous when working with startups, because this fragmentation encourages the development of different solutions and business models with potential application in other geographical areas” added Sandoval.
Our collaboration with startups adopts the Corporate Venture Client approach, where we act as an "industrial platform" for them, not just to test, develop or validate the proposed solutions with experts in the laboratories or applied to the Group's real infrastructure, but also to do business and grow in the countries and markets in which we operate. The startups that collaborate with us have access to an entire ecosystem, a network of our partners ready and able to provide financial support or to further develop competences and skills.
The manager highlighted the latest opportunity for collaborating with the Group, inviting startups to participate in the ReShape initiative, a global appeal aimed at startups to assist our Group in finding solutions to a number of challenges that have come to light or become more pertinent as a result of the recent pandemic. Because thanks to innovation, wherever there's a problem there's also often a solution hiding just around the corner.