Oct 28, 2021 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
LOS GATOS, Calif. – One of the largest energy companies in the world, National Grid (LSE:NG; NYSE: NGG) operates the electric and natural gas infrastructure that serves 80 million customers in Great Britain and the U.S. But even as it works to deliver cleaner, safer and more affordable energy today, the company is investing heavily in transformational technologies to help the planet achieve a net-zero energy future.
“Climate change,” states National Grid’s Responsible Business Charter, “is the defining challenge of this generation.” The company is a principal partner of the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference, which kicks off next week in Glasgow. Against that backdrop, National Grid Partners (NGP) today announced a new slate of investments in startups at the intersection of energy and emerging technology.
The utility industry’s first Silicon Valley-based corporate venture and innovation group has injected $24 million into six more companies whose technology can make power grids greener, more secure and more customer-friendly.
“As we mark our third anniversary, we’re proud to invest in companies that support National Grid’s goals of digitalization, decentralization and decarbonization,” said Lisa Lambert, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of National Grid and the Founder and President of National Grid Partners.
The new deals announced today include:
- AptEdge of San Mateo, CA, which leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to help companies in the energy, technology and other industries transform their customer support operations.
- Santa Clara, CA-based Cogniac, a provider of enterprise-class artificial intelligence image analysis to replace rote tasks with AI vision. Its technology reduces the cost of field engineering inspections for critical asset businesses such as utilities.
- Finite State of Columbus, OH, which automates product security in connected devices and embedded systems for utilities and other critical infrastructure industries undergoing digital transformation.
- Risilience, headquartered in Cambridge, UK, which helps companies plan and manage their transformation to net-zero emissions. The startup is an offshoot of the University of Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies.
- Sync Computing, a startup in Cambridge, MA, spun out of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. It uses a groundbreaking optimization engine to help industries accelerate cloud computing, while also saving energy and reducing their carbon footprints.
- TS Conductor, based in San Clemente, CA. Its technology replaces legacy materials in high-voltage electricity transmission lines with a next-generation conductor that doubles the lines’ capacity without the need to retrofit towers or other infrastructure.
Also today, existing portfolio company Dragos announced a $200 million funding round in which NGP participated as a returning investor. The Series D round is believed to be the largest ever for an operational technology (OT) cybersecurity company. NGP first invested in Dragos in 2018, when National Grid began using the company’s industrial threat intelligence service to monitor global threats to industrial control systems.
“These investments show we’re dedicated to backing innovators all over the world and playing a vital part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lambert.
At COP26 next week in Glasgow, she will moderate a panel discussion with National Grid CEO John Pettigrew and the chief executives of Edison International and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on how corporate investments in startups can supercharge new clean-energy technologies.
By the Numbers
Since its launch in November 2018, National Grid Partners has
- put $290 million to work in 35 startups and four specialty investment funds;
- led more than 60 percent of its startup investment rounds;
- achieved four portfolio exits – most recently, this month’s IPO of Vancouver-based Copperleaf Technologies, which helps National Grid and other critical infrastructure companies ensure their capital spending generates the highest strategic value, including planning for net-zero.
And with a fresh funding allocation of $150 million that was announced earlier this year, NGP is poised to continue disrupting the status quo while collaborating with dozens of other global utility companies in the NextGrid Alliance. Nearly half the world’s regulated energy utilities have participated in NGA workshops in the past year to help advance innovation and accelerate the decarbonization transition. A new online community for Alliance members, at https://ngalliance.energy, will launch Nov. 5 in tandem with Lambert’s COP26 panel.
More than 70 percent of NGP’s portfolio companies have strategic engagements with National Grid to help transform our operations – such as San Jose, CA-based AiDash, which combines satellite data and artificial intelligence to protect critical infrastructure. After a successful deployment in our U.S. service territories to spot overgrown vegetation that can spark outages or fires, AiDash at COP26 will unveil an environmental stewardship product developed with National Grid and NGP’s Innovation team.
“We’re committed to building a smarter, more reliable energy future,” said Lambert, “and to supporting the technologies that will benefit the planet for generations.”
About National Grid Partners
National Grid Partners (NGP) is the venture investment and innovation arm of National Grid plc., one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies. NGP invests for strategic and financial impact and leads companywide disruptive innovation efforts. The organization provides a multi-functional approach to building startups, including innovation (new business creation), incubation, corporate venture capital, business development and venture acceleration. NGP is headquartered in Silicon Valley and has offices in Boston, London, and New York. Visit ngpartners.com or follow us on Twitter (@ngpartners_) and LinkedIn.