The “Shell and You talking about innovation” event included presentations by Regis Assao, Shell’s Principal R&D Partnerships Manager, and Murilo Medeiros, a Research Geologist from Shell’s Improved and Enhanced Oil Recovery sector.

For the 21 entrepreneurs, whose start-ups cover a wide range of business ideas ranging from 3D printing to apps for deaf people and nanotechnology to sustainable fashion, the event is one of a series of interactive ‘Chat’ sessions with market professionals which enable them to develop and refine their business models.

The event was specifically designed to enable the entrepreneurs to learn about the role of innovation within Shell, and to examine how they could innovate within their own start-ups to gain a competitive advantage.

Regis Assao opened the event by saying “Innovation is the idea that works”. In addition to his role as Shell’s Principal R&D Partnerships Manager, Regis is also the Co-Founder of Inova Ventures Participações S.A., a seed investment fund that invests in technology start-ups with high growth potential.

Focusing on business innovation, Regis presented some case studies to illustrate how entrepreneurs have innovated in different market segments. He also debunked the idea that innovation only happens when it is working with technology, and inspired the entrepreneurs to think outside the box.

Murilo Medeiros contextualised Shell’s history from its beginnings to the current day. He also talked about the company’s perspectives on the future, renewable energy and how innovating in different areas is vital to the business as a whole. Murilo gave the entrepreneurs a practical example of how innovation has benefited Shell, explaining that a few years ago it would take 300 days to explore an oil well and that each day of exploration would cost US $1m. Following research and development an innovative solution was found that could reduce the exploration time to 90 days, resulting in savings of around US $210m.

Following the Shell presentations, the entrepreneurs were challenged to consider innovating within their own business model, and received invaluable tips on making a successful business pitch. Each entrepreneur then delivered a two minute pitch to the audience, after which they received constructive feedback from those present to enable them to strengthen their case and to give them further food for thought.

The entrepreneurs really valued the opportunity to learn from two of Shell’s executives at the cutting edge of innovation, and two of the quotes given anonymously as part of the session’s feedback sum this up nicely:

“It was great to see some points that we as entrepreneurs can improve.”

“I really enjoyed the talk and exchange we had.”

Commenting on the value of the session for the Shell Iniciativa Jovem entrepreneurs, Leise Duarte, Social Performance Manager, Shell Brasil, said, “For our entrepreneurs, Shell’s presence is extremely relevant, especially when it comes to innovation. They see Shell as one of the leaders of innovation and technology in the country, and they recognise the value of absorbing shared learning from our executives.”

The entrepreneurs participating in the Shell Iniciativa Jovem receive a year-long programme of intensive enterprise development support, divided into three main stages.

The first stage, or Ideas Lab (March), enables the entrepreneur to test the viability of their business idea. The next stage, Project Lab, comprises a six-month (April – September) programme of weekly workshops focusing on the essential skills required for business success. During this phase, the entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to develop their business networks and showcase their start-ups in a Business Fair.

Finally, the Business Lab (October – December), provides entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to make their businesses both economically viable as well as sustainable and socially responsible. Successful businesses will receive the programme’s prestigious Sustainable Seal, which is recognised by local markets and consumers, enabling the start-ups to make a stronger entry into the market.