During our Scaleup Summit in Madrid we hosted an exclusive panel involving the Chief Innovation Officers (the so called CIOs, the sexiest among the C-level execs) of 3 large multinationals: Enel (Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability Officer), Sodexo (Belen Moscoso del Prado, Group Chief Digital and Innovation Officer), Iberdrola (Agustin Delgado, Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer).

Here below you can find the video recording of our panel discussion, moderated by myself and my partner in crime Marco Marinucci. But let me share a few take-aways first.

Why do large corporates need to work with startups?

We want to mix the agility and innovation of startups with the scale and expertise of the service industry.

That’s what Belen Moscoso said. And for Sodexo this is key because :

We are exposed to growing pressures, both from final customers – who ask for more personalized services – and corporate clients – who want us to deploy hedge technology solutions.

The ultimate goal is:

Changing our current business.

In Iberdrola, innovation comes as a combination of internal R&D, startups, and the supply chain. Agustin Delgado pointed out that:

R&D teams are focused on improving what we are already doing.
To do different things we need to scout ideas and solutions from outside.

To do so, Iberdrola invests into startups. But:

We don’t invest in startups to take control of them. This way we would kill them.
Our main goal is to turn startups into suppliers.

Ernesto Ciorra said ENEL has innovation people in every business unit and even function, including H&R, Audit, Legal and Finance. Why?

Because we can survive only if we can change the whole company. If only a part of the body is changing (and the rest of the body is not), you have a disease.

Most of the companies today have such disease: they have an innovative area but not (yet) an innovative company.
That is to say: an innovative area in a company with big problems.

All three CIOs agreed that they must be ready to fail. Fact that in the corporate world is not universally accepted.

At the end, as Ernesto said:

Innovation is like playing poker.
You must ‘ante’ something just to get dealt cards.
But you must be ready to drop out of the current hand.


  • Role of Innovation within the corporate world: how’s that evolved lately?
  • Open Innovation Organizational Structure and Processes (where open innovation is located inside the organization chart, which are the lines of reporting with the other units, how the relationship with Business Units is managed)
  • Open Innovation Actions (scouting vs investing vs M&A? How do you interact with selected startups (POCs/Pilots, Investments, Acquisitions)?
  • Examples of successful collaborations with startups
  • Examples of unsuccessful collaborations with startups. Lessons learned


0:00: How Innovation is structured in a large organizations
0:00: Sodexo’s Innovation Structure
4:45: Iberdrola’s Innovation Structure
11:00: Enel’s Intro Innovation Structure
16:00: People in business units and functions have a double reporting, both to the head of unit and the CIO.
17:30: Which innovation actions? How to measure them?
21:30: What are your most important KPIs?
25:00: Lessons learned from unsuccessful relationship with startups