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Collective focus: Foundation Talks


Rome, June 4th, 2018

Sharing knowledge and expert opinions is an essential part of Enel Foundation’s work. Periodically, the Foundation Talks sessions host noteworthy speakers: academics, business and industry leaders, policy makers, researchers and consultants have brought to meetings and roundtables their high profile views on relevant topics.

A Foundation Talk focusing on Open Innovation was held in Rome on June 4th, at Enel Foundation headquarters, with a very special guest: Prof. Wim Vanhaverbeke, Professor of Strategy and Innovation Management at Hasselt University and Visiting Professor at ESACE Business School and at the National University of Singapore.

Professor Vanhaverbeke is a leading expert on the topic – he co-edited the books “Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm” (OUP, 2006) and “New Frontiers in Open Innovation” (OUP, 2014) with Profs. Henry Chesbrough and Joel West.

The discussion focused on “Understanding the advantages of Open Innovation practices, with reference to technological performances and alliances”. Professor Vanhaverbeke’s presentation served to stimulate a debate on the different approaches that companies and researchers may adopt regarding the development and introduction of Open Innovation solutions in their respective environments.

Practical examples on investment options and the correct strategies to enhance profitability were reviewed, focusing on how to turn concepts into solutions. Prof. Vanhaverbeke illustrated how companies should carefully monitor the progress of the research they are funding, so to ensure that the possible outcomes are sustainable and properly managed.

Strategic alliances, as a tool for competing companies to better their market position, were discussed as well as they represent another interesting approach and a veritable example of openness and innovative thinking. Enel representatives, whose expertise ranges from technology to innovation, start-ups, sustainability and CSR themes, attended the meeting. The debate that followed Prof. Vanhaverbeke’s speech focused on the role of customers in the open innovation market, and different aspects of bringing innovation to developing countries, where companies are called to make precise choices on how to introduce and distribute innovative systems.

An important aspect of open innovation is the crowdsourcing-like recruitment of new ideas: draft projects that need to be funded and nurtured in order to grow into actual solutions. Enel’s experience with the Open Innovability platform was quoted as an example of productive dialog between a company and the innovators’ audience, with a good response to posted challenges and an interesting selection of submitted proposals.

More Foundation Talks will be organized in the near future, with the intent to foster a collective focus on energy-related topics, relevant to Enel and researchers worldwide.