Celebrating four years of the innogy Innovation Hub

To sum it up, we gladly look at four years of the Innovation Hub, while one-hundred innovation pictures pass our eyes rapidly. We are amazed how much we achieved together with our global teams, start-ups and partners on our way from ‘Corporate Innovation’ to an independent ‘Accelerator and Venture Capital Investor’. For us it´s the right time looking back at the different stages of our development, from early beginnings to our current portfolio of more than 50 investments with a value of € 120 m – and for sure we’re looking forward to celebrating it and then continuing our journey until we will have achieved our vision.

 

Summer 2014: The birth of innovation@rwe

It’s hard to believe, but the Innovation Hub began life with only five people in an internal change project at RWE, inspired by the findings of a research trip to Silicon Valley. Our mission then, as now, was to co-create tomorrow’s energy system. We challenged ourselves to disrupt our own business before someone else did it for us.

From the start, we knew there was much to learn and that we couldn’t do everything ourselves.  Instead we chose to:

  • focus on areas of strength and where we particularly wanted to work (our initial lighthouse projects include two themes ‘Smart & Connected’ and ‘Disruptive Digital’ that we retain to this day)
  • network and partner wherever possible; embracing co-creation as a new mind-set
  • adopt innovative ways of working, failing fast and learning how to move on quickly

This approach allowed us to develop rapid pilots to launch business models with significant business potential for RWE.

 

2015-2016: Accelerating cultural change and building an innovation ecosystem

One rule was clear from the beginning: innovation isn´t only about ideas – it´s about execution and making innovation business relevant. That’s why a bold target was set for the Innovation Hub in 2015 to create an added value to our Group of a substantial multi- million euro value creation. We went out to identify opportunities to co-create in order to commercialize and achieve this goal.

It soon became clear that internal ‘corporate innovation’ and a ‘collecting ideas’ approach alone would take too long to fulfill our ambition. We needed rapidly to adopt a start-up mentality. And we learned quickly that our fastest route to achieve this came from start-ups themselves. We founded Hub outposts in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, London and Berlin, and began to network actively in these vibrant innovation ecosystems. Our aim was to find promising start-ups that we could work with to develop disruptive new business models.

 

2016-17: Building an engine to transform in-house ideas into start-ups

With increasing numbers of initiatives ready to go to market, including seven start-ups that we built with our own people and based on our own ideas, we developed new capabilities to execute faster and give the best possible support to all our start-ups. We improved our support for the insight and ideation process, while also investing heavily in acceleration techniques and know-how. We also created a pool of innovation ‘subject matter experts’ to provide guidance and mentorship to our new ventures.

A major breakthrough came in the summer of 2016, when innogy was founded with ‘innovation’ as its cornerstone. A new era began. With fresh momentum, we now increased our efforts as the innogy Innovation Hub to find promising new start-ups through direct engagement and by setting up global competitions like Free Electrons (as an initiator and co-founder with other seven global utilities) and the iPrize (as the first global ‘Machine Economy’ Award).

While our innovation expertise grew, so did our appreciation of how to launch successful businesses that could compete and scale in their own right.

 

2017- present day: Leverage ideas and start-ups from the external market

Today, we see ourselves as both an accelerator and a Venture Capitalist, partnering with start-ups from across the globe to co-create new digital, platform-powered and data-driven business models. Together with our venture capital arm ‘innogy Ventures’, we invest in and advance start-ups that have the potential for exponential growth.

In addition to our core focus areas  ‘Smart and Connected’ and ‘Disruptive Digital’, we now also focus on ‘Machine Economy’ and ‘Cyber Ventures’. Increasingly, we see the world of energy converging with adjacent industries, such as mobility and smart buildings, driven by the potential of converging technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Augmented and Virtual Reality.

 

Our current portfolio (as of March 2018) consists of 55+ companies with a combined equity value of more than € 120 m. The majority of these businesses have already outperformed their investment case. By 2020, we expect to grow the value of our portfolio to € 400 m.

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