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A2A - Open Innovation

Open Innovation is a paradigm according to which, in the words of Henry Chesbrough, “firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology”.

Our innovation model is open to intercepting ideas, solutions and opportunities from the ecosystem of innovation so that they can be useful in the development of the circular economy and energy transition. We are doing this with a multi-channel logic applied both within and outside the company.

The main aims of our innovation programme are:

  1. To enable disruption
    Supporting the Group in identifying opportunities able to create new markets, products and services in order to meet medium- to long-term goals and create a competitive advantage

  2. To guide transformation into a Life Company
    Supporting the Group in its transformation through the development and actualization of high-impact projects characterized by innovative technologies/solutions that have a concrete effect on people’s quality of life and on industrial growth

  3. To spread the culture of innovation
    Spreading the culture of innovation in the Group by stimulating the ongoing and inclusive participation of the workforce in various initiatives (idea contests, intrapreneurship schemes, …)

  4. To foster responsible innovation
    Bolstering and broadening the Group’s channels of communication and positioning, gearing them towards the ecosystem of innovation and, more generally, towards the market.

Operation model

We want to transform bright ideas into successful products and services. In order to do this, we have set out a structured and systematic process in three main phases, designed to reduce the risk of failure and ensure the development of the most promising ideas.

  • Phase 1: idea generation. 
    Innovation managers periodically identify the needs and challenges of the various business units. On the basis of the priorities, the ecosystem is explored for possible ideas/solutions
  • Phase 2: concept qualification
    The most promising ideas are explored more deeply in order to assess aspects that are both technical (feasibility and technological readiness) and economic (attractiveness in terms of market potential).
  • Phase 3: solution incubation.
    The ideas, particularly if they are not close to the company’s core business, undergo proof of concept (PoC) testing so as to assess their feasibility.

Once the three phases have been successfully completed, the ideas assessed as positive are presented to top management, who have the final word on the development of the idea, on the assignment of a work team and on the definition of objectives.

Challenge

We believe that it is important to inspire ideas both inside and outside the company. The system that we use is that of the “challenge” or “call4ideas”, which is designed and defined according to a specific corporate need and is based on an ad hoc process in line with these needs.

The challenges, which foresee the involvement of our internal capabilities, are an important resource: with a workforce of more than 12,000, the Group boasts a vast reservoir of ideas, allowing employees to contribute to the innovation of the Group, to have visibility with regard to top management and to increase their awareness of idea development methods, thus increasing cross-organization collaboration.
Regardless of how they are born, whether it be within or outside the company, the proposals that are assessed positively by top management merge into the innovation process which ensures a structured and methodical approach to every initiative that is deemed worthy.

 

 

Corporate Venture Capital

Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fosters the company’s innovation through investment in high-potential start-ups.

The programme was born with the participation of a number of partners including 360 Capital, but also the Poli360 fund of the Politecnico di Milano, which leverages the university’s Technology Transfer Office and the PoliHub incubator.
A2A’s corporate venture capital fund offers investment in seed and early-stage start-ups operating in business spheres which are strategic for the company.
Which sectors? Mainly the circular economy and energy transition, along with mobility and new technologies for the cities of the future.

Our digital Start-up Kit provides all the information needed to collaborate with us, to access our working platform and become an integral part of our ecosystem.

 

 

The open innovation platform

In order to enable our innovation model and make it truly effective, we have chosen to set up an Open Innovation platform that allows us to:

  • present challenges and other initiatives both within and outside the Group
  • promote the involvement of the innovation ecosystem (scouting, …) and the government of initiatives with external parties
  • gather and assess business ideas within our CVC scheme
  • find the most suitable competences for the development of ideas within the Group
  • handle the end-to-end development of innovation within the Group
  • ensure the uniformity of the methods and tools used for innovation
  • manage the intellectual property

 

 

Collaboration and partners – the ecosystem

Promoting Open Innovation also means creating an actual ecosystem. Firstly, it means collaborating with external parties in order to give rise to a flow of knowledge fit for the purpose of the innovation itself. We believe that collaboration is the only real way to achieve innovation and that only by joining forces with others can we attain concrete objectives.

For this reason, the company has set up a highly effective process for the generation and management of innovation which has enabled the building of relationships with important participants in the ecosystem: incubators/accelerators, innovation hubs, universities, research centres and venture capital funds.

There are many partners in the ecosystem with whom we now collaborate. These include:
Plug&Play, Innocentive, Polihub, Capital 360, VC Hub Italia, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Elis Openitaly, Ellen McArthur Foundation, TedX…