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Bridging Academia and Business to tackle Innovation Challenges


Turin, 27th June, 2019

After four years of collaboration, Enel Foundation is proud to announce that from 2020 it will become the first Knowledge Partner of Innovation4Change (I4C), a graduate program affiliated with Politecnico di Torino (PoliTO)Collège des Ingénieurs Italia (CdI) and CERN IdeaSquare. Enel Foundation will thus reinforce the engagement with the program and offer I4C alumni additional learning and networking opportunities in growing their ideas to address impactful business challenges.  

The announcement was made by Christian Zulberti, Head of Relations with Universities and Research Centers at Enel Foundation, during “Demo Day”, the closing event of the fourth edition of I4C, which took place at the TAG Foundation Agnelli in Turin on June 27th. The event gathered the different academic teams involved in addressing real business challenges, including a team of 6 MBA fellows and PhD students who developed a project tackling a challenge on “Turning the tide on Climate Change”, presented by Enel Foundation last February at the opening session of the program.

Over the past few years, Innovation4Change has gained prominence at an international level as a hub where theory and practice, academia and business meet to tackle the world’s greatest innovation issues. Based on the so-called “action learning”, it unfolds as a 5-month program opened to PhD candidates at Politecnico di Torino and to the fellows of the MBA of the CdI. Every year 50 students, grouped in different teams, focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, benefiting from the technologies of PoliTO and CERN.

This year’s edition saw the design of 8 sustainable business projects ranging from circular economy in fashion to life without plastic, from smart mobility to evaporative technology, from water purification systems to the creation of resources for isolated communities.

The 2019 challenge launched by Enel Foundation was took up by Andon Bano, Gabriele Luca Basso, Alice Franca, Dilmi Kolamunnage, Luca Pasqualone and Giulia Zoppi. They addressed the scope and magnitude of geological, economic and social consequences of climate change, proposing solutions to mitigate human activities that increase these phenomena through greenhouse gases emissions and working to define a more sustainable use of resources in order to reduce the carbon footprint of human activities. 

More specifically, their project presented at the “Demo Day” was HUBVANCE, an integrated plug-and-play solution for the production of food, water and electricity for isolated communities. 

The I4C "Demo Day" was organized as part of the official program of the Italian Tech Week, one of the largest Italian non-profit initiatives dedicated to technology and innovation. It’s made of over 50 events, all free, animated by 65 companies, institutions and organizations of national and international level.

Action learning at the Digital Business Innovation Lab

Another example of connecting students from Academic Partner institutions with concrete business challenges comes from Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi), where Enel Foundation has involved students with the transformations brought by digitalization to the energy space.   

Enel Foundation presented to PoliMI students of the MSc course on “Designing Digital Business Innovation Lab” two challenges that resulted in two technological solutions elaborated by a team of students each:  “Zeus” and “Elios” platforms.

These are two platforms meant to be for the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) trade of electricity in the private sector, especially between residential units. By doing this, they favor the creation of communities also at a residential level. 

“Elios” for example, whose motto was “clean energy is everyone’s business”, will be able to connect people that want to invest in the installation of a domestic solar system but don’t have the space to do it, with people that have the space but cannot invest. This would thus allow the increase of the adoption of “clean” energy, creating a real community within the platform that would, while waiting for adequate regulatory changes, offer energy companies the chance to offer new services.