Want To Save the World with Your Brilliant Clean Energy Idea?

Multinational power company, Enel, said last month that it was expanding its partnership with InnoCentive, a 17-year old crowdsourcing company that partners with businesses and governments around the world to develop solutions to their business, scientific, and technical issues. To understand why this is important and what it means for renewable energy and you, you have to understand a bit about the InnoCentive platform.

Alph Bingham and Aaron Schacht founded InnoCentive in 2001 based on three principles: 

  • there will always be someone smarter outside of your team or organization
  • getting a diverse range of fresh perspectives is key to effective problem solving
  • asking the right question in the right way is critical to eliciting the answers you need

From those tenets they launched a crowdsourcing platform that releases challenges to the world and asks “solvers” to find solutions to those challenges in exchange for monetary awards. 

With this newly expanded partnership, Enel plans to release 50 challenges related to energy and is looking for “solvers” to those challenge. 

In addition to those business-specific challenges, however, Enel is taking the platform one step further and asking anyone with any idea, project, business solution or patent, to submit it through the platform for consideration. 

Angelo Rigillo, Enel’s Head of innovation governance, planning and portfolio management explained that Enel sees great value in InnoCentive.

“We shifted our way to research and develop new products and services from an internal R&D to the open innovation model,” he said in an interview, adding that InnoCentive is a “a very important partner within our open innovation system.”

Enel already had an open innovation model but by partnering with InnoCentive, it will now have a much broader reach, which will be useful to meet UN sustainable development goals.  

“For us, business is sustainability. Everything that leads toward achieving long-term sustainable development is business. That’s why our open innovation approach evolved into open “innovability,” where innovation and sustainability melt in a single word,” said Rigillo.

Rigillo explained that Enel’s other objective by partnering with InnoCentive is to collect ideas that are not linked to any of the challenges that it publishes.

Do You Have a Patent?

Rigillo said that Enel will “apply the same strategy and policy that InnoCentive has applied for 20 years” in terms of protecting the IP submitted.

Visitors to the OpenInnovability.enel.com platform will find two ways to submit their ideas. The first is in response to specific business challenges – you can view them by clicking on “Challenges.” The second is the “I have a project” section.

“That section is very important for us because we are aware that there are people with brilliant minds full of great ideas and they just need a place to share them,” said Rigillo, adding that these submissions will be reviewed by Enel’s team of experts and people who submit will always get a response.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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