August 11, 2021
Enel Foundation is pleased to announce a partnership with the new Center for Sustainable Materials and Innovation (CSMI) at the University of California, Berkeley, launched in January 2020 to offer a novel approach to strengthening ties between university research, corporate needs, and broader applications in society.
"We are very excited about this partnership which will serve as a hub of scientific and technological innovation to solve some of the most pressing sustainable development goals around materials design and the circular economy,” said Alessandra Lanzara, head of CSMI, Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, and Faculty Scientist at the Materials Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Through a structured and expert-curated process of discovery, matching, and collaborative research, the Enel Foundation Energy Accelerator Fellowship Program will match a group of Enel Foundation Visiting Fellows with cutting-edge laboratories or incubators at UC Berkeley, at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This also includes collaborations with labs at Stanford University through CSMI. Postdoctoral research fellows will be chosen from among researchers working for Enel Group or involved in academic activities within the Italian chapter of World energy for University (We4U), the Enel Group Academic Partnership Program dedicated to top notch Italian and international Universities. For the first batch, the fellowships will be offered to postdoctoral researchers of Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Torino.
The host organizations will be selected initially from a database of affiliated laboratories within CSMI at UC Berkeley, Stanford and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In a second phase, partner will be identified through an open competition, awarding placement of ‘moonshot’ ideas on the selected focus areas conducted in partnership between CSMI and Enel Foundation.
Fellows will work in focus areas that include industrial applications of circular economy such as sustainable materials for reducing consumption and waste utilized in solar, wind, geothermal, thermal, energy storage; resilient energy production systems and infrastructure; weather forecasting systems for energy applications; storage systems for electric mobility; autonomous vehicles and V2G (vehicle-to-grid) technology; and solutions for the enhancement of the electrical grid. The program intends to grow over time to include broader sustainability areas in the future.
This partnership is part of a broader initiative to strengthen Italy’s industrial and innovation presence in the Bay Area, that resulted from the official visit of the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley in October 2019, leading to the recent establishment of the Italian Innovation and Culture Hub in San Francisco.
“The President Mattarella and the Italian Consul Lorenzo Ortona have demonstrated great vision in supporting this cross pollination between basic science and applied technology. It is a tremendous opportunity for industry and academia to learn from and leverage each other's strengths,” said Lanzara.
Ernesto Ciorra, Enel Group’s Chief Innovability ® Officer and General Manager of Enel Foundation, commented “Connecting Politecnico di Milano, Politecnico di Torino and their brilliant researchers with the Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem, UC Berkeley and Stanford is an honor and a great opportunity for us; the ambitious objective of the program is accelerating to the industrialization phase concrete projects currently in their research phase, possibly transforming researchers in entrepreneurs, as it often happens in Silicon Valley. We are grateful to President Mattarella, whose visit to San Francisco inspired this initiative, and to Consul Ortona who facilitated and supported the creation of this Fellowship Program”.
Applications for the program are planned to open in Fall 2021 and the first cohort of fellows will start in 2022.
At the conclusion of the research program, Fellows will graduate with a variety of paths for further development: spinning out start-up companies, licensing technology to a third party, adopting and applying novel technologies within ENEL Group, or continuing the research.
“Looking to the future, our aim is to extend this initiative to other Italian universities and research institutions. Our goal is to leverage the talent and innovation of Italian researchers and enable them with the right tools to create hubs of Silicon Valley in Italy,” said Lanzara.