A new research and development lab, specialised in fintech and cybersecurity for payments and the energy ecosystem, is to be created in Be’er Sheva in Israel by Enel X, our Group’s business line specialised in advanced energy solutions, together with Mastercard, the financial services multinational.
The two companies have been awarded the contract by the Israeli Innovation Authority (IIA) as part of the Innovation Labs Program, in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the National Cyber Directorate. To create the new Innovation Lab, Enel X and Mastercard have set up an Israeli NewCo in joint venture, of which they respectively own 30% and 70%. As part of the three-year contract to set up and run the lab, the new company will receive approximately 3.7 million US dollars from the IIA. This money will cover the costs of creating the technological infrastructure, operational activities and the certification of proof of concepts for the innovative ideas developed with local startups.
“The new lab gives us the unique opportunity to work with Israeli startups to bring innovative financial technologies to our millions of customers worldwide,” said Francesco Venturini, CEO of Enel X. “By joining forces with an important partner like Mastercard, we will support these startups to develop and roll out best-in-class solutions in the fintech and cybersecurity sectors.”
“Today, as much as ever, organisations need to keep security at the forefront of all innovation,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber & Intelligence Solutions for Mastercard. “This new collaboration will allow us to draw from many partners and resources – including Israel’s renowned startup economy – to help bring innovations to market even faster and reduce the growing threat and cost of cyberattacks.”
The new lab will be located in the southern part of the country, in Be’er Sheva, a city designated by the Israeli government as the cyber and fintech capital of the world and home to numerous R&D centres of the world’s leading technology companies.
The project will involve developing advanced technological solutions regarding credit, investments, trading, personal finance, Insurtech (insurance technology) and Blockchain. The startups selected by the Innovation Lab will receive from the AII a grant worth 85% of the costs of reaching proof of concept stage, up to a maximum limit of 140 thousand dollars and for a maximum period of six months. It will be possible to develop and test the proposed solutions at the laboratories using simulations of systems, processes and real financial flows, with the support of the technical infrastructure, the know-how and skills of the Finsec Innovation Lab.
By taking part in this initiative, Enel X, which is already active in the sector, will be able to access the most innovative projects in the field of digital payment and financial services, diversifying and further implementing new solutions. Indeed, the new project is part of the Innovation Labs Program, the most important Israeli ecosystem dedicated to open innovation, with which our Group has enjoyed a productive partnership for some time. We opened our first Enel Innovation Hub in Tel Aviv in 2016 and since then we have met with more than 850 startups and begun collaborations with 35 of them. These are companies with cutting-edge technologies and solutions, such as Percepto, Brenmiller Energy, Anagog, Make My Day and Otonomo. Furthermore, in 2018 Enel was awarded another contract by the IIA to set up the Infralab in Haifa, an innovation lab specifically for the digitalisation of businesses that are active in the infrastructure sector. Today Infralab’s premises host six companies and the organisation has active partnerships with eight startups.