Making innovation together with start-ups needs collaboration, dialogue, and respect. These are the keywords to build an open and flexible ecosystem that is ready to interface with research centers and external independent innovators, within large companies like Enel, which have expertise and consolidated technological know-how.
Once again, it was up to Ernesto Ciorra, Head of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel, who was called to close the Italian Tech Tour held in Rome on 11 and 12 September, to explain how a multinational is able to manage relations with the lively fabric of start-ups, in Italy and in the world. The event was promoted by Tech Tour, a community based in Brussels that brings together venture capital and innovative companies operating in strategic sectors, such as ICT and hi-tech, in Europe and internationally.“Big companies often follow predetermined paradigms. That is why we need start-ups, because they have the ability to think out of the box, to break patterns and paradigms,” stressed Ciorra in his speech.
Through the creation of a system based on the Open Innovation model, it is possible to make the entire value chain of the business more flexible and in step with the times.
Thanks to this approach, Ciorra explained, Enel has assessed, in recent years, over 1700 start-ups, met with more than 400 and started about 80 collaborations, of which 29 are industrial partnerships. “In this way, we have succeeded in helping start-ups operating in different technological areas and faraway countries to come together and collaborate, creating an innovative business model to find new technological solutions for products and services.”
This result has been made possible by setting up a network of innovation hubs in strategic locations, from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Silicon Valley, United States, and from South America to Europe, with the prospect of opening others in Italy (alongside Enel innovation centres already existing in Milan, Catania and Pisa), Spain, Russia, South Africa and Southeast Asia.
As recalled by Ciorra, “Enel was the only utility and Italian company to be included in the ranking of the 50 companies capable of changing the world, the Change the World List drawn up by the prestigious US financial magazine Fortune. This accolade is the fruit of the great skills present in the different business lines and functions of our companies in which we have made and continue to make innovations, which the start-ups we collaborate with have contributed to.”