Italian energy giant Enel launches innovation hub in Tel Aviv

Saul Singer: This is a new model of international business ties.

July 13, 2016 01:09
2 minute read.
START-UP NATION author Saul Singer (left) chats with Roee Oron of Tel Aviv’s SOSA work space yesterd

START-UP NATION author Saul Singer (left) chats with Roee Oron of Tel Aviv’s SOSA work space yesterday.. (photo credit: MICHA LUBATON)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


 Italy’s economic powerhouse Enel, one of the world’s leading electricity producers, has opened its first Israeli innovation hub.

“We are condemned to innovate if we want to remain over the years,” ENEL CEO Francesco Starace said Monday at the swanky launch party and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Tel Aviv’s SOSA work space.

For the electricity producer, the largest by market capitalization in Europe, innovation is necessary to its growth strategy, not so it can compete with other utilities, but so it can compete with and integrate new sources of energy coming onto the market.

The company, based out of Rome, operates in more than 30 countries and has over 61 million customers worldwide.

The goal for the hub, Starace said, was “open innovation,” innovation that works to find new strategies instead of simply advancing strategies that are already in place.

The hub, the first in a series of planned innovation centers around the world, will aim to connect with 300 start-ups a year, and choose up to 20 of them for a sixmonth program. The accelerator, which will be run in association with the SOSA work space and The Junction accelerator, will provide mentorship, access to senior executives and opportunities to test new products.

They will also have a chance to receive follow-on funding from the Economy Ministry, which signed a deal with Enel to provide equal funding to select start-ups.

Enel’s hope is that three to five of the start-ups each year will become commercial companies that work in association with it.

“We wanted to create a physical space, a place that would bring together all the different people, the parties, the companies, to bring innovation and high-tech under one roof,” said Jonathan Saacks, a managing partner at Genesis Partners, an investor in The Junction.

Start-up Nation author Saul Singer, who spoke at the event, saw the hub as an example of a new mode of interaction between countries and businesses. Whereas traditional economic ties are based on trade, he offered, the new ones are based on extracting innovation.

“That new model is not trading partners, but innovation partners,” he said.

Israeli companies traditionally have viewed corporations such as Enel as sources of branding and distribution. But with the proliferation of startups, which are better at innovating and less adept at growing or scaling, the innovation itself becomes the product for corporations, which are good at scaling but have more trouble innovating.

“I think we need to think of corporates as a source of great problems,” Singer said, calling Israel a “solution factory.”

“Our problem is we don’t have enough problems, believe it or not,” he concluded.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Workers strike outside of the Teva building in Jerusalem, December 2017
December 18, 2017
Workers make explosive threats as massive Teva layoff strikes continue