Charting the Path to Energy Innovation: Insights for Young Entrepreneurs and Innovators
Galp, a renowned Portuguese energy company, has partnered with EIA (European Innovation Academy) to offer summer interns specialized training in entrepreneurship and innovation. In addition to their commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial culture, Galp is actively driving innovation in the energy sector through their notable social innovation project, Startup The Future. To gain deeper insights into Galp’s dynamic approach to entrepreneurship and how they collaborate with startups, we sat down with Manuel Andrade, Head of Open Innovation at Galp.
What does a typical day look like for you in your role? What kinds of challenges do you encounter on a regular basis?
Most of my day is spent engaging with external stakeholders, including startups, universities, and industry experts, to explore potential partnerships and collaborations. Evaluating and selecting innovative projects and ideas for further development and implementation.
My team also needs to do some monitoring of the progress of ongoing innovation projects and provide guidance and support to ensure their success. We really need to stay updated on the latest trends, technologies, and market developments in the energy sector to inform the innovation strategy.
And for our role inside the company, much of the work is collaborating with cross-functional teams to identify innovation opportunities and develop strategies to foster open innovation. Facilitating brainstorming sessions and workshops to generate creative solutions and ideas.
Can you tell us about a project or innovation you’re particularly proud of at Galp? What made it successful?
Our global open innovation program, Startup The Future. We first launched it last year and it received more than 250 applications from 54 countries, and finalist startups such as Koolboks (Nigeria) and Mobilize (Slovakia) are already testing their solar and lithium battery-based cooling solutions and electric vehicle charging points with Galp. We are now currently receiving applications for the second edition at https://startupthefuture.galp.com/.
I must also mention Colmeia, an innovation and social entrepreneurship program we are now developing in partnership with the Matosinhos City Hall. This program aims to foster ideas from the local community and empower startups, in order to promote the energy transition in Matosinhos. And what’s different about it is that we combine classical social impact with open innovation methodologies and this challenge is targeted only to residents of a specific area, in this case Matosinhos County. I cannot wait to see what innovative projects will come out of it.
How does Galp approach the process of innovation? Can you walk us through it from idea generation to implementation?
Galp’s approach to innovation may involve several stages, including idea generation, evaluation, development, and implementation. While the exact process may vary, here’s a general overview:
- Idea Generation: Ideas can come from various sources, including employees, external partners, and market research. Galp may encourage ideation through brainstorming sessions, hackathons, and open innovation platforms.
- Evaluation: The generated ideas are assessed based on criteria such as alignment with strategic goals, feasibility, potential impact, and market demand. A multidisciplinary team may be involved in evaluating and selecting the most promising ideas.
- Development: The selected ideas are further developed into tangible projects. This may involve conducting detailed research, prototyping, testing, and refining the concepts. Collaboration with external partners, such as startups or research institutions, may occur during this stage.
- Implementation: Once the ideas are sufficiently developed, they are implemented as innovation projects. This phase involves resource allocation, project management, and cross-functional collaboration. Regular monitoring and evaluation are conducted to ensure progress and success.
How do you foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the employees at Galp? Can employees pitch their innovative ideas and how are these evaluated?
Fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within an organization like Galp can involve several strategies and our Upcoming Energies Platform comes in as the perfect enabler. The first step is encouraging Idea Sharing: Galp may provide platforms and channels for employees to pitch their innovative ideas and share knowledge. This can include dedicated innovation portals, suggestion boxes, or regular innovation challenges.
We also work on supporting Entrepreneurial Mindset: Galp can provide resources, such as training programs or mentorship opportunities, to help employees develop an entrepreneurial mindset and skills. This can include training in design thinking, problem-solving, and
collaboration. Our participation in the European Innovation Academy is one of those training programs.
It is also very important the process of recognizing and rewarding innovation: Galp has mechanisms in place to acknowledge and reward employees for their innovative contributions. This can include incentives, recognition programs, or innovation awards.
And obviously, all that while creating a Safe Environment: Galp intends to foster a culture where employees feel safe to experiment, take risks, and learn from failures. This involves promoting psychological safety, open communication, and a supportive leadership style.
The evaluation of employee ideas can vary depending on the organization’s processes. It may involve criteria such as feasibility, potential impact, alignment with strategic goals, and scalability. Evaluation can be conducted by a dedicated innovation team, senior management, or a combination of both.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs and innovators interested in the energy industry? What would you recommend they study or focus on during their time in college?
To young entrepreneurs and innovators interested in the energy industry, my advice would be to focus on acquiring a strong foundation in relevant technical knowledge and skills. Studying fields such as engineering, renewable energy, environmental sciences, or business with a specialization in energy can provide a solid understanding of the industry’s dynamics and challenges.
Additionally, I would recommend gaining practical experience through internships or projects in the energy sector to develop a deeper understanding of the industry’s intricacies and to build a network of industry professionals. It is also crucial to stay updated on emerging technologies, policy changes, and market trends in the energy industry to identify opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. And I would remember them that Energy Transition is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, and a lot of money and resources will be necessary to make it happen, so this is a field with huge opportunities.
What impact do you think climate change and the move towards sustainable energy sources have on the process of innovation in the energy sector? How is Galp planning to innovate to meet these changes?
The changes we have been experiencing have created a pressing need for innovative solutions to mitigate climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transition to cleaner energy sources. Galp recognizes the importance of innovation in meeting these challenges and has been actively investing in research and development to drive innovation in the energy sector.
The International Energy Agency estimates that 50% of carbon emission reductions towards Net Zero 2050 will come from technologies that either do not exist yet or are at very early stages of development
Our focus is in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and decarbonization technologies by leveraging its expertise and collaborating with external partners, we aim to develop and implement innovative solutions that contribute to a more sustainable and low-carbon energy future.
Galp’s innovation initiatives are guided by a commitment to environmental sustainability, technological advancements, and meeting the evolving needs of the energy market, especially through our platform Galp Upcoming Energies, which connects us with the external ecosystem and allows us to launch open calls.
How important is collaboration and diversity in fostering innovation? Can you provide an example where collaboration or diversity significantly impacted an innovative project at Galp?
Collaboration and diversity play crucial roles in fostering innovation. At our Innovation team, we assemble multidisciplinary teams consisting of individuals with diverse backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. We have currently 14 different academic backgrounds in a 30 people team. This diversity contributes to more comprehensive problem-solving, creative thinking, and better decision-making.
Besides that, innovative projects often require collaboration across different departments and functions within an organization. By breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration, we can foster a culture where diverse teams work together towards a common goal, leading to innovative solutions.
Upcoming Energies also actively collaborates with external partners, such as startups, academia, research institutions, or technology providers. These collaborations bring diverse perspectives, specialized expertise, and access to new ideas, accelerating the innovation process.
Finally, how does Galp ensure the ethical implementation of innovation, and how do you personally view the role of ethics in innovation and entrepreneurship?
Galp ensures the ethical implementation of innovation through a commitment to responsible business practices and adherence to ethical guidelines. This includes conducting business with integrity, respecting human rights, promoting diversity and inclusion, and prioritizing environmental sustainability.
Our initiatives ensure that the development and implementation of innovative solutions align with societal values and contribute to the well-being of stakeholders and the environment. Personally, I think one of our biggest challenges is to make sure the Energy Transition is as fair, ethical, and as inclusive as possible. These considerations should always be integrated into the entire innovation process, from idea generation to implementation, to ensure that innovation is not only driven by profit but also by a sense of responsibility towards society and the environment. That’s why we are also looking at projects and pilots that promote Social Business in fighting energy poverty.
That is our main objective in Programs such as Colmeia, where we aspire to help to boost the path towards Energy transition in the city of Matosinhos, or our Koolboks pilot in Mozambique where we are trying to bring refrigeration to communities without connection to the electrical grid.
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