What do robot exoskeletons, predictive maintenance software, an artificial intelligence (AI) advisor and an electric vehicle route-planning app have in common? These technologies all come from startups and form part of an open innovation approach that aims to create a more sustainable world. Startups are becoming increasingly important for the economy and play a fundamental role in discovering new, innovative ways to improve traditional processes. As an industry leader with sustainable goals in mind, global energy company Enel aims to be a driver of change that brings together key players and new ideas to transform different sectors worldwide.
Innovation is at the heart of Enel’s activities. As Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability® Officer at Enel, puts it: “Innovation is the tool and sustainability is our aim.” The company has paved the way for startups and SMEs to shape the future by providing them with expertise, access to its network of international Innovation Hubs and Labs, and the resources to develop solutions. “At Enel, we connect with the startups on the outside and identify potential proof of concept opportunities,”Ciorra says. “How we manage our relationships with startups is one of the things that make our company so special.” This open methodology can be summed up in one word: Innovability®.
Open Innovation + sustainability = Innovability®
Open innovation and sustainability are key factors in solving global problems. Innovability® is a trademarked methodology that encompasses Enel’s ideology and core values and which rests on these two key pillars. Together with its Open Power strategy connecting top talent, ideas, resources and technologies, Enel is leading the energy transition.
Fabio Tentori, CEO of Enel Innovation Hubs, notes that thanks to this methodology, “all the innovative solutions we have implemented with startups have been of great value for Enel in the last few years.” He continues with the observation that “these solutions have helped us to be resilient and to keep focusing on our customers.”
With over 350 projects under way, the company has worked with startups from a wide range of industries. The following are some of the latest collaborations with promising startups.
Skelex is a startup which produces upper-body exoskeletons for industrial workers with the aim of improving their effectiveness in overhead work and boosting long-term health and safety. This technology allows for the creation of jobs that amplify human potential even as it increases the safety of employees around the world. Enel has worked with the company, founded by Gaurav Genani, since 2019 to co-create a value-driven, versatile, and adaptable solution that can be implemented on its sites globally.
Autonomous robots have revolutionized the way we work. M2D Technologies, founded by Davide Marano, creates smart monitoring platforms that combine AI and autonomous robots to improve the efficiency of renewable plants. Enel has worked hand-in-hand with the company, giving it access to the necessary data and infrastructure to tackle big-data issues and improve quality control at its plants.
Based in Enel’s home country of Italy, iGenius is an AI company that develops augmented intelligence solutions for business data. Using its innovative conversational AI, which auto-classifies business requests based on underlying information, crystal founder Uljan Sharka has worked alongside Enel to develop more sustainable and less complex AI solutions.
Make My Day
Make My Day is a startup that has penetrated the e-mobility market with a seamless solution that uses a smart, decision-based algorithm for electronic vehicle driving assistance. Founders Cnann Aviv and Nisan Katz, together with the Enel X business line, have worked to optimize electric vehicle routes, as well as other solutions, to continue to promote sustainable progress.
The formula for the future
Enel’s Chief Innovability® Officer Ernesto Ciorra defines Enel’s approach this way: “Innovation is part of the continuous change that is mandatory for every company.” He explains that Enel aims to emulate the human body. "Cells die every day and others are reborn as part of a programmed plan of partial death. When this process doesn’t happen, you are definitely dead,” he says. “We must change to survive, if we don’t change, we die.”
Ultimately, Enel’s Innovability® methodology has been a key factor in driving its success and setting it apart from other utility companies. With its innovation-forward approach and focus on collaboration over acquisition, it is pioneering the energy transition by creating solutions that put people’s needs at the forefront.