The Covid-19 emergency has highlighted our Group’s great capacity for resilience, the result of investments in innovation over the last two years and of a global ecosystem that allows us to collaborate with the world’s best startups. In an interview with Enlit, Fabio Tentori, Head of Enel innovation Hubs, explained how, on the strength of this positive experience, we decided to launch ReShape: Innovability® to build a brighter future, a new global call for proposals that aims to further strengthen our ability to see change in advance.
“We have understood that the innovation that we have brought to the Group has been particularly important in making it resilient”, explained Tentori, “and we felt it was the right time to emphasise that we are seeking more innovation, in the same sectors where we were looking before: renewable energy, electrification of final consumption, digitalisation of our activities and remote technologies. ReShape is intended to help us reimagine the future and to guide the energy transition by giving new shape to the energy sector.”
The call, which was launched through our Open Innovability® crowdsourcing platform, will remain open until 30 September. “We have started with six challenges and we’ll soon be adding many more,” Tentori explained. “At the moment our staff are focusing on the issue of employee safety, distancing and traceability. Then there’s the sanitisation of operations in the field and in external spaces, remote assistance to industrial and residential clients and improving customers’ digital experience. We’re also aiming for the complete automation of the construction of energy plants using drones, robots and Artificial Intelligence. Finally, we’re looking for technology and algorithms that help us better understand our customers’ needs at a time when many of them have switched to forms of digital interaction.”
Our approach to innovation, as Tentori pointed out, is called Innovability® (open innovation + sustainability), a combination of the key elements required to solve global problems. “The goal is to make the entire energy sector sustainable. The only way to achieve that is by continuing to innovate technologies, business models and consumption. Combining innovation and sustainability means that every project that we work on must itself be sustainable and must be relevant to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” This open innovation model has helped us to develop together with startups. “In the last four years we have activated 300 collaborations with startups, 50 of which have gone on to become global companies. We help them in the development phase and then we provide them with the best platform from which to scale up their solutions to global level. To this end they can count on our customer base of around 70 million households, more than 46 Gwh of renewable energy, which makes Enel the leading operator in the sector, kilometres of energy networks and smart grids all over the world.”
It is also thanks to the work undertaken together at the Innovation Hubs that we have been able to deal with the current emergency. “A substantial part of our resilience derives from the investments that we have made in innovation over the last two years,” Tentori said, “from intelligent infrastructure to the use of drones and robots for some key activities at the power plants. Moreover, we were the first utility to integrate 100% of our data and apps onto the cloud, thereby operating more efficiently, more safely and remotely.” Our capacity for transformation and constant reinvention has enabled us to respond to the Covid-19 emergency also by redefining some products and services launched in recent years, Tentori added, such as “the solution of Big Data analysis developed in 2019 by Enel X to help municipalities improve their services and that can now be used for monitoring transport movements and transfers of people during the pandemic.” This is just one example of how our Open Innovability® model is enabling us to continue to grow while remaining one step ahead of the rest, and it is testament to our resilience in pursuing the goal of a sustainable future.