Arthur C. Clarke once said, “the only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible”. This is exactly what innovation means for many businesses in an array of industries. Innovation has brought the world together in one way or another during times of crisis, and it has once again, recently, in Chile.
While the Chilean ecosystem is dynamic and constantly evolving, the Covid-19 emergency has tremendously affected many young startups and SMEs in the country. This is not only because they are facing a decrease in sales as a result of the healthcare crisis, but also because many of them were already suffering losses from the social unrest that emerged in October last year. For this reason, the Chilean government is now offering different types of credits and subsidies to support these companies, and is promoting and maintaining programs such as Start-Up Chile, which helps startups develop and obtain financial support.
Fabio Tentori, CEO of Enel Innovation Hubs, stated: “Within the energy sector, we are evolving towards a more sustainable and innovative model, and it is for this very reason that Innovability is constantly at the centre of our strategy”. He was joined by Hernán Acuña, Manager of Enel Innovation Hub Chile, who added, “at Enel Chile, we have a very important role within the ecosystem and are one of the most important energy companies in the region”. Our influence within the ecosystem is what led us to start the conversation on 11 June 2020, with our webinar: Roadmap to Innovation in Chile.
“In order to make the world more sustainable we must keep innovating and be resilient in the way that we work ”
A digital event providing collaborative knowledge
The webinar was hosted by Acuña and featured key speakers and stakeholders from the Chilean ecosystem, including Rocio Fonseca from the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO), Gaston Farias from the startup WeHaus and Marta Cruz from the venture capital NXTP Ventures. They were also accompanied by Tentori, who provided insightful information about current Enel developments and trends within the industry. As he commented: “The energy sector is experiencing a deep transformation, and digitalisation will change the sector’s paradigm”.
The webinar delved into several important topics regarding the shift in innovation and the collaborative economy. Changes are inevitable and methods that were previously applicable to businesses could now become obsolete. “Throughout history, we have seen that when a crisis happens, it forces even those individuals who are less prone to innovate, to react and disrupt the market with new ideas”, said Fonseca. She added that “when people think about innovation, they feel scared because it may be something they have never done before, but innovation is nothing more than a simple methodology that solves a problem head-on, in a different and collaborative way”.
From the startup perspective, we learned more about WeHaus and how the company is innovating post-pandemic. “As a founder, I was very concerned about the data I was reading regarding the impact of the coronavirus and its spread”, revealed Farias. Although the world has changed, new needs have emerged that companies need to address in order to continue their business as usual. Farias pointed to the fact that “we needed to develop an adaptation of the product we already had, in order to help companies manage their workspaces and mitigate the spread of infection. This is what allowed us to move forward”. On top of this, WeHaus collaborated with other startups through Miles De Masacaras, an NGO that provides public hospitals with the masks they need to help promote employee safety.
To conclude the webinar, we heard from Marta Cruz from venture capital NXTP Ventures. Cruz observed that “from the beginning of the pandemic, startups were able to mitigate its effects”. This is because startups from a variety of sectors contributed products, services and solutions to address the needs that arose due to the virus. She confirmed that “for ecosystems to keep moving forward into the future, we need to count on all players to collaborate – including corporations, startups, SMEs and mentors”.
“Innovation means adding value through new technologies and/or tools that allow us to make processes more efficient, develop new products or services and, eventually, disrupt markets ”
EIH Chile and the new normal
At Enel, we constantly push the boundaries and adapt our strategies as change occurs. That is what Enel Innovation Hub Chile is accomplishing. As Acuña reveals, “at EIH Chile we support startups in every phase of their growth”. He adds that, “to maintain this commitment, we have developed various internal initiatives, such as the Launch and Learn training program, that have allowed us to continue co-creating with startups not only in Chile, but also in other countries in Latin America, such as Colombia and Peru”.
We strongly believe that if the future could be defined in one word, it would be: collaboration. Working and innovating together is important in times of crisis and is what will create a positive impact in the new normal. Although we can’t be certain this is the last crisis the world will face, if we come together, we can build a more sustainable and better future for all.