Pisa joins the Innovation Hub&Lab network
Pisa consolidates its credentials as a city of innovation with the inauguration of an Innovation Hub&Lab focussed on the challenges of generating thermal power in the future. It is the latest hub in a network that is now present in the world’s leading innovation ecosystems: Tel Aviv, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Santiago, Madrid and Catania.
The new space, presented on 11 May, will host the technology partners and startups working with the Global Thermal Generation (GTGx) business line. The goal is to fine-tune, test and implement innovative technology both for the sector, such as the Industrial Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and robotics, in addition to safety technology and innovations to safeguard the environment.
The inauguration was presided over by Enrico Viale, Head of Global Thermal Generation, and Ernesto Ciorra, Enel Chief Innovability® Officer. Over the past 12 months, the business line has examined the activities of 107 startups, initiating 15 collaborations and 6 Innovation Partnerships, and has organized 4 co-creation workshops and 3 Open Innovation Challenges.
Pisa was not a casual choice. With the University, Scuola Normale Superiore and Scuola Superiore S. Anna (an active Enel partner), the city is home to almost 65,000 students. These resources were highlighted by Giuseppe Forte, councillor for Mobility at the Municipality of Pisa, and Eugenio Giani, President of the Regional Council of Tuscany, both of whom attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“Our Group already works with the most innovative startups, to ensure that we are in contact with cutting-edge technology and ideas. The Innovation Hub&Lab in Pisa represents a gateway for new partners and new solutions that can be introduced into the fleet of Enel plants, increasing competitiveness and sustainability”
– Enrico Viale, Head of Enel Global Thermal Generation
An access point for innovative ecosystems
Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Chief Innovability® Officer, firmly believes that the new Hub&Lab will bring value to the entire country. Outside of Italy, Tuscany is seen as the model for a new Renaissance and now, thanks to Pisa, it will host startups that aim to make contact with other areas of the country. The new space, therefore, represents an access point for other innovative ecosystems.
“Italy is an important centre for innovation, where Enel continues to invest in initiatives that support entrepreneurship and technological research. The Italian Hubs are interconnected with the network of international Innovation Hubs that Enel has set up worldwide, in areas with high levels of innovation, to encourage internationalisation and a continuous exchange of ideas”
– Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Chief Innovability® Officer
Working with venture capital funds, accelerators, incubators, big industrial players and universities is essential for the development of innovation. To have a disruptive effect on the market, however, a concentration of resources is required. Ciorra gave the example of how Enel decided to change approach towards universities and now reaches new levels of excellence, working with 10 institutions. Another essential tool for scouting is the Open Innovability® platform, which brings Enel into contact with anyone who wants to submit or develop innovative ideas.
Innovating with startups
Some of the most recent Global Thermal Generation startup collaborations were mentioned. With Enel’s support and following a pilot phase at the Brindisi plant, the Swedish startup, Athonet, which develops fast mobile data connections, has taken off, winning a prestigious Global Mobile Award.
Amber Kinetics, meanwhile, has developed a flywheel system for storing kinetic energy. Measures to combat the access of drones to industrial sites are being developed by Convexum, while Percepto has created a computer vision based technology that allows drones to carry out automatic inspections and recognise potential anomalies.
Demonstrating how these collaborations can encourage innovative contamination with other sectors were the following speakers: Marco Soliman, Business Development D-Air Lab at Dainese, showcased a safety jacket with an integrated airbag system for those working at height, developed thanks to the company’s experience in manufacturing protective sports equipment, while Silvestro Bendotti, Area Sales Manager at Rotork wireless instruments, discussed their recent acquisition of a startup that develops systems for the remote monitoring of valves in industrial plants. These two case studies demonstrate that supporting the independent growth of startups benefits the entire industrial ecosystem, as Nicola Rossi, Head of Innovation at Enel Global Thermal Generation, reminded those present.
“The innovation ecosystem is populated with many players. By connecting startups, research centres, universities and big businesses with each other, Enel is able to work together to develop products that are increasingly tailored to the needs of businesses and clients, with the aim of rolling out the technology on a large scale”
– Nicola Rossi, Head of Innovation at Enel Global Thermal Generation