EIC Corporate Day, Enel meets Europe’s most promising startups

Published on Tuesday, 19 May 2020

An online event to enable the most promising small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC) to pitch their innovative solutions for the energy sector to the Enel Group with a view to launching commercial partnerships together.

The second edition of the EIC Corporate Day, organised by the European Innovation Council in collaboration with Enel, was initially scheduled for March. It was then postponed because of the Covid-19 emergency and took place via videoconference on 12 May. 33 SMEs gave online presentations of their innovative solutions in the fields of renewable energies, smart cities, network infrastructure and other sectors ranging from the smart home to smart industry. The companies taking part were also able to attend one-to-one online meetings with more than 40 Enel representatives who were there to listen to the pitches and to identify projects that could be of interest to our Group.

“It is a real pleasure for me to welcome all of you for the second EIC Corporate Day with Enel. The first time we were able to meet in person, today we do so online with the aim of taking full advantage of this opportunity,” said Fabio Tentori, Head of Enel Innovation Hubs, as he opened the session. Our Group is the world’s largest private operator in renewable energies, and one of the main gas and integrated services operator. In recent years we have created 10 innovation hubs around the world and we work constantly to identify innovative solutions and technologies beyond the confines of our company, thanks to our Open Innovation philosophy. Tentori emphasised: “We are proud of being curious about new technologies, and, for this reason, we are in contact with innovators and startups wherever they may be, both online and in person.”

The event on 12 May showed that it’s possible to continue scouting for innovative ideas even during a pandemic. The Covid-19 emergency, observed Antonio Biondi, manager of Enel Innovation Hub Italy, has accelerated the process of digitalisation currently under way, highlighting the importance of organising events online, such as this year’s EIC Corporate Day. “We have adapted the scouting to the new requirements that have emerged as a result of this situation. For myself and for Enel, taking part in the EIC Corporate Day is a big opportunity to come into contact with Europe’s most innovative companies.” From more than 150 startups that asked to take part in the event, the EIC selected the 33 that offered the most tried and tested technologies and business cases that were potentially most interesting to Enel.

“This is a perfect opportunity to meet other startups: we can’t wait to find out more about their solutions,” commented Alessandro Barone, manager of Enel’s Milan Innovation Lab of Global Infrastructure & Networks. For Gioacchino Bellia, Head of Open Innovation and Startups of Global Power Generation at Enel, “today the aim was to pinpoint the most promising solutions proposed by the SMEs in order to accelerate our energy transition towards power generation that is 100% sustainable and renewable. This activity is part of our ceaseless process of scouting for new solutions.”

The SMEs taking part were also enthusiastic about the online initiative. “In this way we can get to know the other companies taking part and it’s possible to talk to Enel representatives more directly: when these meetings take place in person often you don’t know who’s who, so this way is much more simple,” explained Alicia Fuentes, CEO of the Spanish company Quaternium which presented its hybrid drone model to Enel. “I’m really pleased that the event wasn’t cancelled and that, by using technology, we’ve been able to carry on doing our jobs,” said Irene McAleese, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer of the British firm SeeSense, which presented its circular business model.

“We should have more online opportunities like this. Company representatives are difficult to reach at this time, so for us these events are a precious opportunity,” added Linknovate co-founder and CEO Manuel Noya who, after obtaining funding from the EIC, decided to move the company from the United States to Spain. The opportunity also turned out to be precious for Enel. “We identified a number of business opportunities,” concluded Biondi at the end of the event, “after today we will be organising one-to-one meetings and I’m confident that these will lead to a number of collaborations.”

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