“The future is possible, and we can no longer pretend that our goals cannot be achieved.” These are the words of Enel’s CEO, Francesco Starace, who continuously encourages us to create a world where innovation is open and sustainable. As we get closer to the energy transition, and with an open mindset as the key driver, we can connect with more startups and key stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem worldwide.
This is the real goal of our Enel Innovation Hubs. These global innovation centers serve as a point of contact for regional ecosystems, startups and SMEs to connect with both local and global Enel partners and resources, proving that innovation has no boundaries. “The more open you are, the more opportunities you’re able to take advantage of and the more value you can create for your company,” is how Fabio Tentori, Head of Enel Innovation Hubs, puts it.
Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability® Officer at Enel, says that the EIH Open Innovation mindset “allows us to forge relationships that are mutually beneficial and that create shared value for all the stakeholders involved.” Today we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of our first Enel Innovation Hub, and we couldn’t be prouder.
EIH: Born to innovate
We initiated this adventure at the center of the Israeli innovation ecosystem, Tel-Aviv. Founded on July 12th, 2016, EIH Israel and its manager Eran Levy are deeply involved in the local ecosystem, identifying potential initiatives and business opportunities, and laying a solid foundation for further activities of all the other Innovation Hubs. We chose Tel-Aviv as our first EIH location as it is one of the most successful innovation communities in Israel and the world. “Our greatest achievement in Israel is that we started with one Innovation Hub and, as of today, we have three Innovation Hubs and labs and collaborate with very strong partners in the Israeli innovation ecosystem,” Levy says.
EIH Israel served as the cornerstone for what has now become a global network of 9 Innovation Hubs and 22 labs spread out among seven countries around the globe. After the original EIH opened we began to expand to other locations including Italy, Brazil, San Francisco, Europe, Chile and Boston. Fernando Sandoval, Manager of EIH Europe, argues that “by understanding what different players do and the strength of each ecosystem, we are able to find the right match between cases that are of interest to Enel and the best startups. This has allowed us to grow as a network.”
United by Innovability®
Although the hubs are located in strategic locations within regional innovation ecosystems, they all aim to build collaborations and to have an impact on problem solvers all around the world. That’s the essence of Innovability®. “The relationships that we build with startups are not just business or commercially related, but they transfer value from one side to the other reciprocally,” explains Luca Seletto, Manager of EIH Boston. His US counterpart, Milan Poidl, Manager of EIH San Francisco, states that “the most interesting part is the convergence of tech professionals worldwide, with an open mindset to identify, build and scale new solutions to change the status quo.”
In South America, we have also made a significant impact with our Chilean and Brazilian hubs. “What makes our hubs unique is their all-round professional creativity, and that goes for the startups as well,” says Loren Almeida Manager of EIH Brazil. She continues: “We have different solutions, different levels of maturity, and a lot to work with.”
Hernán Acuña, Manager of EIH Chile, sums up the most significant insight gained over the years: "The main lesson learned in these five years is that we need to trust the startups and their capabilities to create long-term relationships. Working as a team can only lead to success.”
Sustainable and digitalized progress with EIH
The world has changed dramatically during these five years – a digital and technological revolution, social and economic changes, a pandemic, etc. The Innovation Hubs have witnessed and reacted to it. “It is impossible to confront the pace of evolution of the world and the energy sector by ourselves,” adds Antonino Biondi, Manager of EIH Italy. He continues: “Working with startups and business lines, I have learned that only by sharing know-how and skills between hubs and external partners is it possible to make innovative projects successful.”
This global network of Enel Innovation Hubs has grown and evolved with the passing of time. What began as a small project became a new way of handling our day-to-day reality and of collaborating with problem solvers worldwide.
Together we have proved that Open Innovation and sustainability can come together to build a better world. Happy fifth birthday, Enel Innovation Hubs!