The Open Innovation process in Iren: the innovation life-cycle

The Iren Group manages innovation processes through an Open Innovation model, based on the continuous contamination of ideas, skills and corporate resources in order to generate benefits, not only for companies, but for its entire ecosystem.


The focus is on fruitful collaborations with universities, research centres, innovation hubs and start-ups, participation in working groups and associations on specific research and development topics, and the promotion of conferences, workshops and hackathons.



The Open Innovation paradigm enables progress in the process of continuous change and transformation to meet the evolving needs of tomorrow through collaboration between internal and external resources. 


In fact, Iren promotes a unitary and strategic vision of innovation, based on continuous involvement and knowledge-sharing, in order to guarantee synergies and optimisation of resources, make processes integrated and efficient and create value for citizens and the entire territory.


The results of these two-way knowledge flows accelerate the internal innovation process and direct the creation of new external markets by making company boundaries fluid and permeable.

The Iren innovation network

Since the inception of the Innovation Directorate in 2015 and over the years, the Iren Group has built up a strong network of contacts that it uses in funded, self-funded projects and other forms of collaboration.

In 2021, Iren actively participated in twenty research and innovation projects with a total value of partnership activities of around 118 million euro. Of the numerous projects, more than half were financed by research and innovation calls managed by bodies such as the European Union, the Italian state, state bodies and the regions: Horizon 2020, MIUR or MATTM POR FESR. These projects not only actively involved around 137 Group employees from different business areas, but also guaranteed collaborations with numerous businesses and academic institutions located in over 100 European cities.


Every year, including feasibility analyses, technology scouting, proof of concept, more than forty projects are initiated with universities, research centres, innovation hubs, and start-ups.


Since its launch in 2018, the corporate venture capital programme has connected with more than 2000 start-ups and completed six investment deals. The realities intercepted are the result of the national and international innovation network as well as proprietary initiatives such as the Iren Start-up award, which attracts over 100 applications for each edition.


Iren analyses ideas with a multidisciplinary approach, harnessing the knowledge and skills of an ecosystem of companies, universities, research centres, innovation hubs and start-ups to produce results beyond the confines and spheres of its business. People thus become a significant and essential stimulus to build the future of the Iren Group together, integrating innovations available on the market with the Group’s business model.