Our network of Innovation Hubs plays an essential role in our ability to connect with local innovation ecosystems and work alongside startups that are developing new technological solutions and business models. As part of our commitment to promoting these new collaborations, we have consolidated our activity in 10 international hubs in order to be more accessible to startups in different locations around the world.
One of the regions in this network is Russia; Moscow, in fact, has been home to our sixth Enel Innovation Hub since 2017. “Russia has a high level of innovation potential,” affirms Olga Maslova, Head of the Moscow Innovation Hub. Indeed, since 2009, Skolkovo Technology Park has become one of the biggest innovation centres in the world, reflecting Russia's commitment to transforming its economy. The centre, which is commonly referred to as the Russian Silicon Valley, and Enel’s Innovation Hub are strategically located here in order to maximise our impact within the Open Innovation ecosystem.
“One of the main responsibilities of the Enel Innovation Hub in Russia is to establish good relationships with business people, who represent the core of the startup ecosystem, not only in Moscow but also in other regions of Russia. We are always ready to share the knowledge that we have acquired over the years with new partners in the field of innovation,” explains Maslova.
Always in search of the best tech solution
We work with all areas of the Enel Group to identify solutions that the company is interested in and have exposed the scouting process in Russia to all kinds of technologies. Notably, the Enel Innovation Hub in Russia is “aimed at screening and scouting Russia’s most interesting technologies mainly related to Energy and Information Technology - two key areas Russian startups are particularly talented in,” explains Innovation Manager Galina Dremova.
“The scope of technologies may vary from cyber security to improving energy storage systems,” she continues, and “the focus of scouting really depends on the areas of interest and tasks that the company sets.” Given this approach, in the last few months the Hub has been immersed in a scouting contest together with Russian Venture Company (RVC). This institutional investor plays a significant role in fostering the Russian venture capital market and innovation ecosystem development, and is therefore an optimal partner for Enel. The agreement was established within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
A contest that reaches beyond Moscow to tap into Russia's talent
The contest was launched last June with the aim “of enlarging our partner network and connecting Enel with the entire Russian ecosystem to scout for the best solutions,” explains Maslova. It’s focused on three key themes: technologies for making thermal generation cleaner and more efficient; solutions for making renewable energy production more efficient; and sustainable development solutions.
Because this was the first time we collaborated with RVC, we created a specific process to reach the maximum number of startups. “The first step was the scouting itself, during which all the startups that fit the description of the solutions we are looking for, could submit applications on a special platform that was created specifically for the contest,” outlines Maslova.
The application process closed in the middle of September with a total of 185 startup applicants. The list of participating startups during the contest includes many from various Russian cities not only from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. According to the Hub Manager, “this demonstrates that the Russian innovation ecosystem is developing in all the regions and the most important thing is that the interest from the startups is developing and growing.”
The contest also included the GENSTalks: targeted scouting events for tech projects. Held in Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Almaty (Kazakhstan), “during these events, company representatives (from the Sustainability, Renewables and Thermal Generation lines) conducted pitch sessions and consulted startups that were interested in taking part in the selection process,” explains Dremova. “We also shared Enel’s approach to innovation and presented success stories involving the region's innovation ecosystem,” she adds.
The final phase of the contest will be held in Rome on November 18th, where “shortlisted startups will present their technologies to representatives of the Enel business lines and management.” Afterwards, selected projects will be invited to create pilot projects at one of Enel’s facilities. Together with the Russian startups, Enel is leading the way in the energy revolution.