innogy’s Innovation Hub offers support for promising startups

You are wondering why innovation startups have been heading to Brussels lately? The answer is that something ‘unconventional’ has been going on there. From 23-25 January, the Unconvention 2017 took place in the Belgian capital. Sponsored by innogy, this was the fifth event organised by the European Young Innovator Forum (EYIF).

The EYIF is an independent organisation set up by the European Commission to help lead the way in European digital entrepreneurship. The event aims to bring together young European innovators and “dream makers” such as policy makers, corporates, visionaries and investors.

"How European startups can grow globally"

This year, the convention focused on “how European startups can grow globally from Europe and how Europe can attract the best startups, talent and investment from across the globe.” Major themes running throughout the event were strangely similar to our innovation hub topics, including smart cities and whether robots will replace human jobs and living in a world of autonomous machines.

There was also a session on how women entrepreneurs are now rocking the innovation scene in Europe. This is something that we in the Innovation Hub also strongly believe in and show our support for with the forthcoming everywoman event.

Panel discussion


During a panel discussion, innogy’s Thomas Birr talked about how a unified legislative approach across Europe will help the startups to scale cross border. Although it is usual to expect legal framework to lag behind the innovation, Birr espoused that

Regulation represents the social conscience of the society. It is bound to evolve over time. Society will eventually take the same acceptance journey in autonomous cars and drones as it took with chauffeured elevators to self-propelled ones of today.

Thomas Birr, SVP Innovation & Business Transformation, innogy SE

In the evening, at the first EU Drones Award Ceremony in the EU Parliament, Thomas Birr discussed with Members of the EU Parliament, representatives of the EU Commission and other industry stakeholders about drones. Thomas was invited to show a use case and explained that innogy has already started with the deployment of drones for inspection of photovoltaic panels.

Workshop: Design Thinking


Susanne Rompel who is innogy’s Head of EU Representative Office at Brussels, and Dirk Homuth, Project Manager Digital at RWE, ran a workshop on how to develop new products and solutions using Design Thinking. It was a venue packed with startup founders and SME consultants who all were inspired to think and act with this methodology.

This event was a great opportunity to bring innovative thinking to Brussels and introduce innogy SE to key political stakeholders in the EU. It was amazing to bring together policymakers and startups and help them understand what they need from each other.

Susanne Rompel, innogy’s Head of EU Representative Office at Brussels

Helpful Feedback

On the last day, Naveed Tariq, Innovation Hub Strategy Expert, was part of the panel that evaluated the startups and gave them helpful feedback on their overall business model and pitching.

Supporting Route to Market for these startups could be an interesting playing field for the innogy Innovation Hub to differentiate itself from lot of other corporate innovation outfits.

Naveed Tariq, Innovation Strategy Expert, innogy Innovation Hub

Products that were pitched varied from Smart Home hardware, physical training instruments sector and Photovoltaic panel cleaning drones.

Finally, EYIF explained the grants and funding structure of EU for startups, a field which we will further explore for the innogy innovation hub and our corporate startups.

Unconvention was a good forum to meet and be inspired by the exciting startups. All participants greatly appreciated the vision of the policymakers to make smart trade and economic frameworks that support and promote innovation.