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Innovation, digitalization and operating efficiency

In order to foster new uses of electricity and new ways of managing it, making it accessible to an ever larger number of people in a sustainable manner, Enel has made innovation and digitalization key pillars of its strategy for growth in a rapidly changing environment, establishing high standards of security, business continuity and operating efficiency. It is a path that involves both the traditional business and the development of new approaches and technologies, leveraging creativity, passion, ideas and technologies both inside and outside the company. Enel operates through an Open Innovability model, in which solutions are not only innovative but also guarantee the long-term sustainability of Enel’s business and the communities in which it operates. It represents a consensus-based ecosystem that makes it possible to face challenges by connecting all the areas of the company with startups, industrial partners, small and medium-sized enterprises, research centers, universities and crowdsourcing platforms. Enel has 91 innovation partnership agreements, including eight global and cross-business agreements that, in addition to Enel’s traditional lines of business such as renewables and conventional generation, have promoted the development of new solutions for e-mobility, microgrids, energy efficiency and the industrial Internet of Things (IoT). During 2018, the hub network where startups have the opportunity to test their solutions with the support of Enel’s structures and know-how was expanded. There are now six Innovation Hubs (Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Moscow, Santiago de Chile and Rio de Janiero) and three Innovation Hub & Labs (Catania, Pisa and Milan). In 2018 the Innovation Hubs organized 28 bootcamps, scouting initiatives dedicated to specific technologies of interest to the Group.

The online crowdsourcing platform “Openinnovability.com” has become a digital forum where dialogue is always open and ideas know no limitations. Project ideas are the protagonists of the challenges launched on the site through calls for applications. In 2018, Enel organized 27 innovation and sustainability challenges.

The process of change cannot be separated from the development of specific activities regarding the culture of innovation and corporate entrepreneurship at a global level.

The “Innovation School” continued its work with the aim of providing Enel people involved in innovation activities with skills and knowledge about innovative work methods.

Some 100 Innovation Ambassadors from various departments and business areas in Italy, Brazil and Colombia have been selected within Enel, with the goal of ensuring that innovation becomes part of our daily work through specific work methods. The “my best failure” project is also continuing, seeking disseminate a no blame culture and encourage innovative experimentation.

Furthermore, in 2018 the activities of the innovation communities continued, involving different areas and skills within the company. Energy storage, blockchain, drones, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, wearables and robotics are the areas and technologies addressed within these communities. In recent years, Enel has intensified the use of drones in the monitoring and maintenance of its assets, inspecting solar fields, wind farms, dams and hydroelectric reservoirs, closed components in traditional plants and distribution lines with the aim of increasing the efficiency of operational and maintenance processes and above all reduce workers’ exposure to risks.

Furthermore, storage systems, in addition to guaranteeing ongoing support for current business activities, pave the way to new frontiers of sustainable business. Using storage systems improves reliability and increases the quality of distribution as well as ensuring, together with traditional generation, network balancing and the stability of system loads at the national level.