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Open Innovability


Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation


Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable


Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

In order to facilitate new uses of energy, new ways of managing it and making it accessible to ever more people in a sustainable way, it is necessary to speed up innovation in the energy field. Enel has made Open Innovation and digitalization the pillars of its industrial strategy, in order to grow in a rapidly changing context, guaranteeing high standards of safety, business continuity and operational efficiency.
Innovation linked to sustainability translates into “Innovability”, which creates value for the company and for all its stakeholders, and allows new opportunities to be taken and more advanced solutions to be found to offer an outstanding service to customers, favoring access to energy, social development, while respecting the environment and the communities where Enel operates. Enel is starting a transformation process to make its industrial production and services not only automated but also interconnected and smart (Enel 4.0). Enel is in fact a platform company of electricity networks which can facilitate new platform models by expanding its skills also to the management of data networks, thus facilitating the activation of businesses linked to innovative hi-tech sectors such as e-mobility, minigrids, e-home, connectivity, storage, etc. Within the Group there are around 300 active innovation projects1 covering the whole value chain in the various geographical areas. Most of these projects have required the activation of partnerships with other leading players in the sectors or the contribution of start-ups which have developed solutions which are still not on the market. These collaborations take place within the ecosystem of Open Innovation which the Group has been operating for over two years.
In 2016, 28 global partnerships were started, bringing to 114 the innovation partnership agreements both globally and locally, and the portfolio holds 80 projects covering startups and Business and Market units. During the last year, around 350 start-ups were introduced to the relevant Business Lines, 27 collaborative projects were launched, and relations were consolidated with venture capital funds, accelerators and crowdfunding platforms.
In addition, there are 3 innovation hubs (Israel, Brazil, Chile) in the regions with the highest level of innovation, to enable involvement in the most advanced ecosystems in the world and to select the best start-ups with which to launch innovative projects. In particular, in 2016 an innovation hub was opened in Tel Aviv, followed in March 2017 by another in the Silicon Valley.

The Group’s medium/long-term innovation strategy, the approval and monitoring of projects, the selection of start-ups with a high impact on the business, and the approval of key partnerships are the main duties of the Group’s Innovation Committee, which consists of the Chief Executive Officer and the heads of the main corporate divisions.

Discovering blockchains

Blockchains, thanks to which it is possible to certify the exchange of information, ownership rights and contracts without the need of a third party acting as guarantor, are considered as one of the technologies which could revolutionize the global economy. In a world where machines autonomously exchange information and take decisions on the basis of that information, it is likely that new architectures will emerge inspired by the blockchain. In April 2016 Enel created a cross-cutting working group to look at the possible impacts on the business, involving the Innovation Division and some outstanding people from the various Business Lines. The group defined the specifications of three possible cases linked respectively to networks, trading and renewables. Enel is also launching some challenges for a series of start-ups, to identify the best partners to develop these projects.

In line with the Open Power principles, the innovation strategy therefore envisages the involvement of all the staff at Enel. The participation of employees in the innovation process is encouraged at every level, from the simple proposal of innovative ideas for crowdsourcing to the participation in corporate entrepreneurship initiatives, such as the Enel Innovation World Cup and the Inspire Empreendedores Program, both launched during 2015 and which continued throughout 2016. The latter, in particular, is promoted by the Brazilian subsidiary Prátil and saw the participation of 114 people, who put forward over 80 projects. Currently four business initiatives are at the incubator and market test stage. In the Innovation World Cup, instead, over 800 participants put forward around one hundred innovative business solutions which were analyzed and selected by the countries. The 22 most promising proposals were rewarded with financing and the possibility of dedicating up to a maximum of 50% of working hours to develop the initiatives proposed. Innovation also means the ability to experience and learn from inevitable failures. For this reason, Enel launched the My Best Failure Project, an online platform which lets everyone share their “best” failures and what they learnt from the experience, thus creating a common knowledge base to drive innovation, and encouraging everyone to experiment and try something new. In 2016, over 90 examples from people around the world were published. In addition, Enel opened up to external crowdsourcing, drawing on expertise from various countries to solve in 2016 seven technical challenges with solutions which are currently being tested. Enel also set up an in-house weekly newsletter, Innovation Intelligence, which covers the world of cross-sector innovation, looking at the sectors of competence, competitors, start-ups, SMEs, universities and research centers. It has a readership of 8 thousand people in the Group across all countries.

Enel Idea Factory

Enel Idea Factory proposes to transform work places into laboratories for ideas and to promote integration among the different company units and openness to the outside, supporting dialogue among a number of interlocutors, inside and outside the company. In 2016, 19 ideas sessions were held involving 578 people from Enel and 22 people from outside the Group (including representatives of universities, consulting companies, suppliers and managers from sectors other than the electricity sector). 447 ideas were generated, and 24 of these led to 3 initiatives during the year (for example, the launch of additional services for the market in Romania). During 2016, creative sessions were also held on sustainability themes: Climate Change Adaptation and the circular economy, as well as meetings with the main data owners of the Sustainability Report.

Breakthrough Innovation for the SDGs

This is an initiative promoted by the Global Compact of the United Nations in collaboration with, among others, Volans and The DO School, with the aim of moving companies towards the world of innovation and to the new generations of entrepreneurs who, through innovation and new models of sustainable business, are contributing to the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Enel has adhered to the program since its launch in September 2016, taking part – together with another nine companies which are leaders in sustainability – in the Breakthrough Innovation Challenge (BIC). The BIC involves young professionals from LEAD companies and presents them with the challenge of achieving the SDGs through the creation, development and use of cutting-edge technological solutions and sustainable business models which are specific for the respective industrial sectors. The results of the “competition” will be presented during the Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017, which will be held in New York in September. The Enel Group is represented in the BIC program by four young members of staff from the following Divisions: Global Renewable Energies, Global Infrastructure and Networks, and Global ICT.

1 Innovation project means the testing of an innovative solution which creates added value for the company, can be replicated, and satisfies a specific need. The innovative aspect can reside in the customer served, how they are served, in the type of product or service offered, in a new combination of the previous points, therefore in a new business model, in the technological solution applied in a point of the value chain. The idea or the proposal of an innovative solution become projects following formal approval so that the testing may go ahead as well as the allocation of a project budget. If the test is successful, the commercial or wide-scale adoption of the validated solution can follow.

Reference SDGs: 
Main actionsTargets
Innovation in infrastructure on broad scale: storage, electric cars, smart grids and smart meters+18 million smart meters installed in the 2017-2019 period
Coordination and development of the V2G project in two countries in 2017 (the UK and Germany) and extension to North America and other European countries by 2021
Ultra-broad band deployment in Italy250 municipalities and 9.5 million homes by 2020
Promoting global partnerships and supporting high potential start-upsSelection of 40 new innovative start-ups for development projects by 2020
Launch of three innovation hubs by 2017
Organization of boot camps for managers and employees at innovation hubs
Organization of two Hackathons each year at the innovation hubs by 2019
Promoting actions in line with the UN “Making Cities Resilient” campaign400 municipalities by 2020
Training on resilience in MBAs and PhDs in the countries where the Group is present600 people involved by 2019
Sustainability Plan 2017-2019