NEXT ENERGY is a Terna and Fondazione Cariplo initiative to support new-graduate employment prospects and the entrepreneurial vocation of young innovators.
The programme offers 15 paid internships, each lasting six months, in different Terna work groups tasked with developing innovative projects, and 10 fast-track schemes for start-ups, also lasting six months.
The objectives of NEXT ENERGY are aligned with the Terna Group’s approach to sustainability, as well as with targets 4 and 9 of the SDGs.
Italy is marked by high unemployment among young people and modest economic growth. The electricity sector is in the middle of a historic transition to renewable energy sources. These facts are the basis for NEXT ENERGY, a Terna initiative to promote new graduates’ acquisition of knowledge in the electricity sector, with the aim of encouraging employment and supporting the development of innovative entrepreneurial projects by young people.
NEXT ENERGY has offered a 6-month paid internship to 15 recent engineering graduates and a 6-month incubation/fast-track scheme to 10 teams of innovators and young start-ups.
The objectives of NEXT ENERGY makes the initiative perfectly aligned with two SDGs: number four (“Quality education”. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and number nine (“Industry, innovation and infrastructure”. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation).
The NEXT ENERGY initiative is consistent with the role of a large Group like Terna, of infrastructural and strategic importance for its country: at a historic time when a lack of job opportunities for young people has become a genuine social crisis, Terna thought it necessary to take concrete action. This led to the idea of a program that could give a chance to both individuals and teams with an innovative business idea. Terna therefore launched a “Call for Talent” and a “Call for Ideas”.
NEXT ENERGY constitutes an effective response to certain company needs: in the current phase of “energy transition” towards more sustainable solutions, with impacts both in terms of recruitment and management, there is corresponding development of a business innovation branch.
In terms of sharing and collaborating with external companies of solid strategic value, the Terna Innovation Plan identifies a tool able to accelerate innovation projects, also thanks to the contribution of young people who can offer new approaches and perspectives.
The search for talented new graduates, initiated with the “Call for Talents”, is also respondent to the needs of the generational-turnover phase that the Group is experiencing.
Innovation is the underlying concept for the entire project, starting with the areas of interest cited in the Call. The new graduates who carried out an internship at Terna all worked in departments focusing on innovation projects, both in the world of electricity transmission (Terna’s core business) and in that of its Non-Regulated Activities (storage, smart islands, etc.) while the start-ups selected from the “Call for Ideas” gave a concrete sense to the “Open Innovation” driver foreseen by the Group’s ”Innovation Plan”.
To execute NEXT ENERGY, Terna has adopted several tools:
- vouchers for the 3 best teams of innovators, to be spent on additional services for their go-to-market;
- internal know-how for teaching and tutoring;
- collaborations with the best teams selected, with the aim of creating applications that are coherent with the provisions of the Innovation Plan;
- media promotion, across the general and industry press (traditional and online) regarding the initiative and its results.
Initial input came directly from company management, with the CSR Department tasked with the overall coordination, with the direct operational support of Human Resources and Organisation department for the “Call for Talents” initiative and of the Strategy and Development Department for the “Call for Ideas” ones.
In addition to the aforementioned company departments, the execution of the various project phases also involved the Legal and Social Affairs Department and the Media Relations and Web, Internet Editing and New Media departments.
To implement NEXT ENERGY, Terna signed a three-year partnership agreement with Fondazione Cariplo, the most important Italian body to focus solely on social value and the promotion of economic development, running its own initiatives as well as financing third-party projects.
Terna also involved, as a performing partner, the largest Italian incubator (Polihub), which designed and developed a 6-month fast-track pathway for the start-ups with “knowledge-sharing” sessions with the 15 interns.
NEXT ENERGY has already produced concrete results that are also, in some cases, measurable, in line with initial objectives.
External benefits generated by the project
- Reinforcing the employment chances of 15 interns
- Employment of 9 interns with apprenticeship contracts
- Development of 4 post-fast-track collaborations with 4 teams, for the development of pilot projects
- Increased ability of university placement offices to monitor employment opportunities for young graduates
- Activation of a privileged channel with Terna for incubators, fast-trackers and start-ups
Benefits for Terna
- A qualitative/quantitative boost to the recruitment database with the profiles of recent engineering graduates
- Validation in the start-up world as a company focused on innovation
- Development of collaborations with 4 teams of innovators with opportunities to develop interesting business applications
- Consolidation of the Terna image (more than 230 media outlets).
More generally, the first edition of NEXT ENERGY has positively substantiated the Open Innovation driver cited in the Terna “Innovation Plan”, much so that, for the second edition, to begin in September 2017, an additional Call is envisaged (“Call for Growth”), reserved to more mature start-ups with projects of clear interest to Terna.
It is still too early to be able to fully measure the effects for the beneficiaries (interns, innovation teams), in terms of employment and start-up activity for example, and the business benefits for Terna.
Terna has nevertheless begun evaluation of the impacts of the NEXT ENERGY project, with the support of external experts.
NEXT ENERGY has taught Terna a great deal: firstly, it has highlighted the great potential of Open Innovation, particularly the value of young people’s contribution to the business. Their lack of conditioning, fresh approach to problems, creativity and propensity to innovate proved powerful stimulants, difficult to activate within consolidated company departments. With NEXT ENERGY, Terna has executed a concrete Open Innovation experience for the first time, one that has proved so positive that it will not only be repeated, with a second edition, but also expanded, with an additional Call that is even more targeted.
The whole NEXT ENERGY structure (the choice of partners, jury members, profiles selected for the internships, capacity of the innovators’ team) is based on excellence and this element, never taken for granted, has strengthened each of the project phases.
The alignment of the initiative with those SDGs of reference (4 and 9) has further strengthened the commitment of Terna, a company that has been a part of the Global Compact for many years and is directly involved in promoting its principles.