Open Innovation

In the Iren Group technological innovation is key when it comes to making strategic choices and deciding what products and services to offer.

Iren manages innovation processes via an open innovation model, in other words by involving all the stakeholders (internal and external) in developing the idea or a product, so that it actually proves to be the best, after being analysed and developed from a multidisciplinary approach, using the knowledge and expertise of an ecosystem of companies, universities, research centres, innovation hubs and start-ups. To find out more, see the Corporate Venture Capital programme.

Innovation is crucial to improving and making business and work processes more efficient , to ensuring environmental and economic sustainability and, consequently, to facilitating the growth of the local communities where the Group operates.

Iren is extremely active in co-funded research projects at a European, national and regional level: these projects allow innovative solutions to be tested with the contribution and discussion of international businesses.

The main, currently active, innovation projects co-financed at European, national and regional level are described below:



The objective of the 5G-Solutions project is to experiment, in various field tests, the functions, potential and limits of the 5G network, with particular focus on assessing the performance indicators defined by the supervisory standardization bodies.


The project aims to create the first plants for producing and distributing biomethane to end users in Italy. These plants will be the starting point for seeing how far this experiment can be extended throughout the Emilia Romagna Region and to creating the regional biomethane distribution network. IREN will build the pilot plant.

The project aims to develop and integrate an innovative Power-to-Heat-to-Power solution to maximise the use of non-programmable electrical RES and thermal RES already combined with DH systems.  The system being studied, called CHEST, will allow electricity to be transformed into heat, stored and then used to produce electricity again, using heat pumps, latent heat storage and organic rankine cycles (ORC). 


The project aims to develop an integrated IT security platform that can be used by all those operating in the energy supply chain (Transmission System Operators, Distributors, Aggregators, Manufacturers). The main functions of the system are: vulnerability assessment, monitoring/protection and learning/sharing.

ENERGYNIUS (Energy Networks Integration for Urban Systems)
The project sets out to define growth models enabling Energy Communities and Energy Districts to carry out two-way exchanges with energy networks, thus offering energy and services to the regional/national system.


ESACOM (Energy SAving and COMfort optimisation)
The aim of the project is to develop a platform of sensors, algorithms, databases and apps , able to provide Stakeholders with a tool, scaled to the various levels, for data management and implementation; a support for energy optimisation decisions, to implement energy management that takes into account the actual well-being of the users of the building.


The aim of the project is to develop a "plug and play" fuel cell generator unit, easy to transport at an urban level for temporary power supply in various sectors (construction sites, music festivals, temporary events, exhibition centres).

The project aims to investigate and test, directly in the field, the Vehicle to Grid (V2G)concept, i.e.a system in which electric vehicles have a balancing role on electricity networks. The main innovations of the project are:

  • The development of two lightweight quadricycles with an innovative battery management system and a two-way charging system, capable of interfacing with the electrical network both to recharge and to "give up" their charge;
  • The development of an EMCS (Energy Management and Control System) prototype for data management by the various stakeholders, with a view to improving the balance on the electricity network;
  • Testing on V2G charging solution prototypes, both at home and at a public/urban level.


The project aims to develop a new fast, low-cost and high-sensitivity test for the detection of pathogens present in water samples and potentially applicable to other sectors such as food, health, agriculture.

The project aims to develop an e-roaming platform applied to various electric mobility systems (charging infrastructure and vehicles). The main objective is the creation of a "Hyper network", namely an ICT super-infrastructure able to homogenize data coming from the various stakeholders and generate broadly accessible innovative services and applications.


The project aims to study and test distribution methods, through a fiber optic or wireless telecommunication network, of the time sample, i.e. the exact time, with an accuracy in the order of microseconds for the multiutility sector. In particular, operational applications will be aimed at real-time monitoring and analysis systems of electricity distribution networks and water services.

The project aims to develop technologies and analyse regulatory constraints for the synergistic use of distribution networks (electricity, gas and thermal). The project will entail: modelling storage and conversion technologies; simulating intelligent multi-grid automated management systems; creating new business models; testing energy conversion systems in a physical pilot. 

The goal of the project is to test, in several pilots in Europe, solutions in the field of innovative management of buildings and plants, free-running mode (FRM), self-consumption and integration of renewables. PRELUDE intends to integrate multiple physical and mathematical models developed by the partners, the databases of the various pilots and the systems for monitoring and controlling the assets of the pilot projects in a single modular platform / middleware.

The project aims to increase the flexibility of conventional, fossil fuel plants, especially combined cycles, in order to meet the increasing demands of the grid to compensate for fluctuations in renewable sources. The project will study the combination of heat pumps with cogeneration and conventional combined cycle systems; the combination with heat and cold storage systems will also be analysed.


Material recovery from WEEE R1/R2 
The main objective of the project is to develop highly replicable technologies with rapid transfer to the world of industry, aimed at optimizing the management of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). 

The project aims to create support tools for Regulators and Stakeholders for the increase of renewable sources in district heating and cooling systems. Programming and technical-economic evaluation tools, actions to improve regulatory policies and frameworks and innovative means of dissemination and communication will be tested in 6 European pilot projects with the aim of validating the benefits and preparing a set of tools for the benefit of future energy projects.

The project will validate, on an industrial platform, the conversion of the organic fraction of waste and exhaust CO2 from vehicles and industrial production into biofuels and biochemicals. Specifically, the project sets out to exploit the organic fraction of urban waste, normally converted into thermal, electrical, bio-methane and compost energy, through the extraction of high added value substances such as H2, carboxylic acids, bio-fertilizers and biostimulants.

The project resulted from the fusion of the two design ideas WATERTECH and SMART WATER presented in the MIUR Smart Cities call for tenders with the aim of offering a more solid analysis of the integrated water system, aiming both at managing problems related to water distribution networks and at applying innovative models and technologies for wastewater treatment.


The project aims to demonstrate 3 innovative Power to Gas (PtG) systems located in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, in order to identify and overcome their technical, economic, social and legal barriers. The project has the ambition to evaluate the possibility of integrating the PtG storage system into cutting-edge energy production and distribution systems. The role of IREN will focus on the study of the technical / economic possibilities of integrating PtG technology into thermoelectric production realities.

The project aims to develop and define a method for detecting the presence of heterotrophic bacteria in aqueous media such as eColi, pseudomonas aeruginosa and salmonella. The instrument, to be developed at prototype level for use in the field at water service sources of supply (artificial reservoirs) and at the distribution network, includes a pre-concentration phase allowing the bio-sensor to bind the bacteria on a surface that will then be analysed with laser technology. The development of an instrument that works in the range indicated could open up numerous possibilities in the pervasive monitoring of water quality.


If you have an innovative idea, a start-up, an innovative product or service or a research activity and want to get in touch with Iren, write to