Iberdrola bets on startups for drones and energy storage


The Spanish company allocates 70 million to its venture capital fund, Perseo, to collaborate with companies that guarantee energy sustainability.


Just as in Greek mythology, Perseus was one of the greatest exponents of the union of the gods (Zeus) with mortals (Danae), in the energy industry this famous name is on the way to taking on a new meaning: that of the union of the large electricity companies with the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Or at least that is what Iberdrola intends, which has brought this name back to the present to embody its 70 million euro corporate venture capital programme. A fund dedicated exclusively to investing in technologies and new businesses that ensure the sustainability of the energy model.

“At Iberdrola we are very clear that there cannot be large companies if there is not a dynamic business network with entrepreneurs capable of offering innovative products and services in their environment,” explains Diego Díaz, head of Iberdrola’s venture capital programme, to INNOVADORES. “We have already learned that startups are not just looking for funding and that it is not just about participating as shareholders by providing funds, but about helping the company define its product and its business. We have understood that providing funding is as important as providing knowledge and access to the market.”

The Perseo fund was founded in 2008 and, since then, has contacted more than 1,200 startups, of which it has already made an investment of 50 million euros in 11 of them. In terms of the volume of funds, approximately half of the investment has been made in Spain and the other half in international investments, while, if we examine the portfolio of companies, we will find five Spanish companies, four in the United States, one in Canada and another in Norway.

Among them, two Spanish companies stand out in which Perseo has recently invested. On the one hand, the Salamanca-based startup Arbórea is revolutionising the inspection of energy infrastructures through the use of drones and, on the other, the company Atten2, which has developed a sensor system capable of providing remote information on the health of generation assets in real time.

Also on the podium is Stem, a Silicon Valley firm that is experiencing remarkable growth thanks to its energy storage solutions that combine predictive analysis techniques and Big Data together with batteries, to improve energy efficiency in commercial and industrial client installations. In fact, Stem has won the largest distributed storage contract in the world this year (85 MW) and we will soon see its solutions in Europe. Who knows, maybe as a new catalyst for the adoption of renewable energies in the Old Continent.

“We are generally interested in solutions that apply software and information technology to the energy sector. For example, we are talking about solutions that can optimise a client’s energy consumption based on the weather forecast, the time they will be at home or the activity they will carry out during that time and the hourly cost of energy,” adds Díaz. “With regard to our assets, we are very interested in applying innovative technologies such as robotics and sensors to the operation and maintenance of energy infrastructures; this is another area in which we have already invested and continue to analyse with great interest.”

Although Perseo has invested in companies with varying degrees of maturity, Iberdrola has shown its preference for investing “in companies that already have a product or service in the pre-commercial phase and are in the process of bringing it to market.” Not in vain, this fund usually participates in the first or second institutional rounds of these startups. And all of this has a direct impact on the sustainability and environmental objectives set by Iberdrola, in addition to what it means for the creation of a business network and, why not say it, on Spain’s position in the innovative ecosystem of this industry. According to the figures handled by this electricity supplier, the companies in which Perseo participates directly or indirectly have already generated more than 13,000 jobs.


Source: El Mundo

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