Enel, a year spent scouting young promises

Published on Tuesday, 17 January 2017

After London, the second Innovation Boot Camp in Rome. Also, the kick-off of the Tel Aviv accelerator and the INCENSe project. CEO Starace commented the strengthening between the Group and startups: “We do innovation opening up to the outside world”

“Traditionally, utility companies are complex and not always innovative organisations, this is why we decided to do innovation opening up to the outside world”.

With these words, Enel CEO Francesco Starace opened the Innovation Boot Camp in Rome on January 13, a day of meetings between 14 among Europe’s most promising startups and the Group’s   business units. This event was made possible by the SEP (Startup Europe Partnership), funded by the European Commission, which Enel joined in 2014. In July of last year, this platform had already produced a meeting for the scouting of young promises in London.

It’s easy to say innovation. The startups invited to the event in Rome, from 10 European countries (Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany, Finland, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland), had already passed a first rigorous selection by Enel and were able to present their projects with "one-to-one" meetings to six different business units.

As explained by Enel’s Head of Innovation and Sustainability Ernesto Ciorra, "many companies talk about startups, we want to do it: startups need us just like we need them". Of the 1,400 companies met by Enel in recent years, 240 were initially taken into consideration, projects were hypothesised with some 120, while Enel is actually working with 80. Today - Ciorra explained - having a startup as a partner is possible for Enel mainly due to a cultural and organisational revolution wanted by the Chief Executive Officer".

A "revolution" that led to the opening of the first Enel Innovation Hub in Tel Aviv, the first incubator founded by an Italian company in Israel, one of the most attractive countries for new companies. A model that we will soon replicate in the Silicon Valley and Singapore. Enel's strategy consists in operating as a strategic industrial partner, simplifying the typical bureaucracy of the procurement office of a large company by providing the expertise, the facilities and an international network to support startups with the highest potential, through partnerships with venture capital funds, universities, research centres and incubators.

Another initiative developed by Enel in this direction is the coordination of the Incense project, a business incubator created by a consortium funded by the European Commission through the FIWARE programme. FIWARE was set up by Enel and Endesa (a Group subsidiary), together with Danish energy startup incubator Accelerace and FundingBox, the first and most important public platform for new businesses and researchers.


Finally, a few days ago the Call for disruption Energy notice was awarded. The Call, sponsored by Enel, Intermonte Consilia and Ascomfidi, aims at promoting innovative projects in the fields of energy and green economy. The winner is Elemize, a young company specialised in storage systems and distribution of self-produced energy. A company that is made in Italy.

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