The Art of Innovation: the Enel model at Startup Village

Published on Monday, 25 May 2020

“The Art of Innovation. Startup as a Masterpiece”. From the title alone, this edition of Startup Village promised to be special. Billed as the year’s most important free tech event, it was held on 21 and 22 May via live stream, due to the Covid-19 emergency, thus enabling online participation from all over the world. Organised by the Skolkovo Foundation in the year of its 10th anniversary, the event saw the participation of 300 speakers from 80 countries, 4,500 startups and 1,000 investors.

The Moscow district of Skolkovo is the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley, an innovation ecosystem that our Group selected as the location for one of its ten global Innovation Hubs in 2017.

The establishment of the tech district was not the only important anniversary celebrated at this year’s edition. Construction of Russia’s energy sector began a century ago, as evoked in the title of the panel dedicated to the “Century of Energy. Towards Digital Markets” on 21 May where our Group was represented by Fabio Tentori, Head of Enel Innovation Hubs. The panel discussed the impact of technology on the energy market and the sector’s changing business models.

For a century, electricity was considered a utility, a service received by the consumer at a fixed price. Today’s advances in renewable generation, energy storage, smart metering, network reliability and digital solutions provide the consumer with new opportunities: the ability not only to monitor and control their direct consumption but also to produce energy for their own needs, to sell it or to trade it through net metering. After of a century, it is time to rethink the entire model of relationships in the energy system.

“We look for startups that we can work with to develop new business models,” explained Tentori in his video address following the presentation of our Group’s innovation model. In short, this consists of scouting technologies and meeting the most promising startups through our Innovation Hubs network and the Openinnovability platform, working with the innovation teams already involved in our lines of business (“this means that the solution can be rolled out all over the world at the conclusion of the test phase”), and providing startups with access to our laboratories, technologies and experts to test products and solutions.

“If the test phase is successful, we offer the opportunity for global scale-up within our network,” explained Tentori. “Today our suppliers include 50 startups worldwide, like Brenmiller in Israel with whom we work on storage or LotaData in California with whom we developed a city analytics platform.” Eighty percent of the companies working with Enel already have prototypes or solutions ready for testing while the remaining twenty percent are fledgling startups that we are helping to grow. “So, if you have new ideas, technological solutions or interesting business models for the energy sector, don’t hesitate to contact us,” was Tentori’s closing invitation. 

A seed cast into the fertile ground of Moscow’s Startup Village, transformed for the 2020 edition into a sort of global village dedicated to innovation. And its art.

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