Co-innovating with providers: taking the relationship further by creating a new company together

BY Fernando L. Mompó on 26 / 06 / 2015

Providers are being asked more and more to become technology drivers and bring innovation and new product ideas to their clients. Increasingly, providers are now expected to add value beyond the buyer/seller relationship. Co-innovation with providers, a rare and limited activity years ago, is becoming an important element of a trend going from outsourcing focused exclusively on price to value-oriented agreements.

Iberdrola, Spain’s biggest electricity group operating worldwide, has recently launched an innovative innovation program with providers which aims to promote and accelerate the development of new products and services to meet future needs of the company and help to deal with the challenges of the sector.

Iberdrola works with close to 18.000 providers worldwide. During the presentation of the new program, company representatives insisted this initiative will reinforce the effect exerted by Iberdrola as an innovation tractor for the businesses in areas where it operates. But the new program is not an altruistic or a Corporative Social Responsibility initiative. Iberdrola wants this program to provide the advantage of having cutting-edge solutions that will differentiate them from their competitors while making its business more efficient.

Iberdrola’s program will focus on three main areas: facilitate providers access to funding, promote joint creation of companies (spin-offs), and increase the purchase of innovative products or services developed by SMEs.

The initiative includes counselling providers to access public funding programs for financial support that will allow them to expand their business, initiating new projects and growing internationally. But more importantly, the new program bets on Iberdrola collaborating with providers in R+D projects, sharing risks and potential benefits.

Taking the relationship further, the innovation program includes also the possibility for co-investing in new companies or start-ups or even creating a joint spin off to develop new products or services in a collaborative way.

GDES Technology for Services is a first example. Created by Iberdrola and Grupo Dominguis, the new company will develop and sell technology for the operation and maintenance of electricity generation and distribution facilities. The first technological development of GDES Technology for Services will consist in a system for continuous monitoring of gases used in nuclear power plants.

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