Enel Foundation Partners with UC Berkeley to Support Italian Researchers in Their Entrepreneurial Journey

How to beat the climate crisis? Start with carrots

Partnership will create an Energy Fellowship Program among labs at UC Berkeley and Stanford.

Berkeley, August 11, 2021 – The new Center for Sustainable Materials and Innovation (CSMI) at the University of California, Berkeley, launched in January 2020, is pleased to announce a partnership with Enel Foundation, the research foundation of the multinational power company Enel, to offer a novel approach to strengthening ties between university research, corporate needs, and broader applications in society.

“We are very excited about this partnership which will serve as a hub of scientific and technological innovation to solve some of the most pressing sustainable development goals around materials design and the circular economy,” said Alessandra Lanzara, founder and head of CSMI, Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, and Faculty Scientist at the Materials Science Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  

Through a structured and expertly curated process of discovery, matching, and collaborative research, the Enel Foundation Energy Accelerator Fellowship Program will match a group of Enel Foundation Visiting Fellows with cutting-edge laboratories or incubators at UC Berkeley, at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This also includes collaborations with labs at Stanford University through CSMI. Postdoctoral research fellows will be chosen from among researchers working for Enel Group or involved in academic activities within the Italian chapter of World Energy for Universities (We4U), the Enel Group Academic Partnership Program dedicated to top-notch Italian and international Universities. For the first batch, the fellowships will be offered to postdoctoral researchers of Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Torino.

The host organizations will be selected initially from a database of affiliated laboratories within CSMI at UC Berkeley, Stanford and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In a second phase, partners will be identified through an open competition, awarding placement of ‘moonshot’ ideas on the selected focus areas conducted in partnership between CSMI and Enel Foundation.

Fellows will work in focus areas that include industrial applications of the circular economy such as sustainable materials for reducing consumption and waste in solar, wind, geothermal, thermal, and energy storage; resilient energy production systems and infrastructure; weather forecasting systems for energy applications; storage systems for electric mobility; autonomous vehicles and V2G (vehicle-to-grid) technology; and solutions for the enhancement of the electrical grid. The program intends to grow over time to include broader areas of sustainability in the future.

This partnership is part of a broader initiative to strengthen Italy’s industrial and innovation presence in the Bay Area that resulted from the official visit of the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley in October 2019, leading to the recent establishment of the Italian Innovation and Culture Hub in San Francisco. 

“The President Mattarella and the Italian Consul Lorenzo Ortona have demonstrated great vision in supporting this cross-pollination between basic science and applied technology.  It is a tremendous opportunity for industry and academia to learn from and leverage each other’s strengths,” said Lanzara.

Ernesto Ciorra, Enel Group’s Chief Innovability® Officer and General Manager of Enel Foundation, commented: “Connecting Politecnico di Milano, Politecnico di Torino and their brilliant researchers with the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem, UC Berkeley and Stanford is an honor and a great opportunity for us; the ambitious objective of the program is accelerating projects currently in their research phase to industrialization, possibly transforming researchers into entrepreneurs, as it often happens in Silicon Valley. We are grateful to President Mattarella, whose visit to San Francisco inspired this initiative, and to Consul Ortona who facilitated and supported the creation of this Fellowship Program.”

Applications for the program are planned to open in Fall 2021 and the first cohort of fellows will start in 2022.

At the conclusion of the research program, Fellows will graduate with a variety of paths for further development: spinning out start-up companies, licensing technology to a third party, adopting and applying novel technologies within ENEL Group, or continuing the research. 

“Looking to the future, our aim is to extend this initiative to other Italian universities and research institutions. Our goal is to leverage the talent and innovation of Italian researchers and enable them with the right tools to create hubs of Silicon Valley in Italy,” said Lanzara.

About CSMI

The Center for Sustainable Materials and Innovation (CSMI) at the University of California Berkeley promotes an innovation ecosystem that brings together scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University together with corporations, with the goal of maximizing academic-driven innovation and entrepreneurship, while serving industry’s and society’s sustainable development goals. One of the key sectors of research for the center is the design of new sustainable materials with applications in the energy and electronics sectors.

CSMI is hosted by the CITRIS and the Banatao Institute on the UC Berkeley campus.

About Enel Foundation

Enel Foundation is a non-profit organization focusing on the crucial role of clean energy to ensure a sustainable future for all. By developing partnerships with pre-eminent experts and institutions across the globe, leveraging on the vast knowledge of its founders, Enel Foundation conducts research to explore the implications of global challenges in the energy domain and offers education programs to the benefit of talents in the scientific, business and institutional realms.

About CITRIS and the Banatao Institute

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute create information technology solutions for society’s most pressing challenges.

CITRIS leverages the research strengths of the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz, and operates within the greater ecosystem of the University and the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley. CITRIS strengthens bridges between world-class laboratory research, state and national policymakers, and companies and startups creating new applications and reshaping entire industries. CITRIS facilitates interdisciplinary work among hundreds of University of California faculty members, students, corporate partners, and international institutions. Together with these public and private partners, CITRIS shaping the future of technology in ways that cross traditional boundaries.