Last week, Current, GE’s energy services spin-off, announced the acquisition of Daintree Networks, a provider of connected building controls solutions for commercial facilities. GE states that the acquisition will enable Current to expand its building automation platform and its energy-as-a-service offering to small and medium size facilities through the deployment of Daintree's open, standards-based wireless control systems.
GE has chosen not to disclose the purchase price and would not comment on reported figures ranging from $75 to $100 million, for the building automation start-up founded by Bill Wood and other former Hewlett-Packard engineers in Australia in 2003. However, managing partner at Melbourne-based venture capital firm Jolimont Capital, Teresa Engelhard, said it would return $42 million to investors from its approximately 40% stake in the company, built from a total of $17 million funding across Daintree's seed, Series A and Series B rounds.
The move is being seen as a smart approach to seize a huge opportunity in the building automation sector. Presently, 90% of the world's small to medium sized buildings do not have building automation systems. Integrating Daintree Networks' open-standard networked wireless control solution ‘ControlScope’ into Current's building automation portfolio creates an effective solution to address that problem.
The joint solution links data from lighting and HVAC systems directly to Predix, GE's Industrial Internet software platform, allowing customers to analyse their energy consumption and identify data patterns to increase efficiency and reduce power levels.
"By combining Daintree's open-standard control and sensing technology with GE's Predix platform, Current's building automation platform and its energy-as-a-service offerings, we'll deliver the industry's first next-generation, scalable cloud-based energy management and facilities optimisation platform for every building type and size", said Maryrose Sylvester, President and CEO of GE Current. "Our combined strengths will help customers, big or small, achieve a reduced carbon footprint and increased energy savings, and provide a solution for ecosystem partners to grow".
This acquisition provides Current an extensive ecosystem of value-added resellers, system integrators and device partners with long-standing experience in helping enterprises deploy and optimise ControlScope in commercial, retail and industrial environments. Built to established open protocol standards, Daintree's ControlScope technology can be deployed wirelessly and securely in a broad variety of enterprises and ensures interoperability between products offered by multiple device vendors.
The acquisition comes just six months after the formation of Current, a first-of-its-kind energy start-up within GE that integrates GE's LED and onsite power businesses with GE's industrial grade Predix platform. Current was established to deliver “the most cost effective energy management platform required by customers today and in the future”, according to the company.
"Daintree has been in the enterprise IoT space for a long time, so we are excited to join Current in bringing customers an enhanced lighting and energy management solution that can be applied to a wide range of buildings including grocery stores, neighbourhood banks and office environments", says Derek Proudian, CEO of Daintree Networks. "Through this integration, we will help our customers achieve the promise of the Industrial Internet: greater control, lower maintenance costs and increased operational efficiencies".
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The acquisition represents Current’s first major purchase and the fact it is for an open-standard lighting platform for smart buildings says a lot about the direction of the firm and their feelings on the sector. “Lighting is truly at an inflection point and the forthcoming shakeout over the next 5 years will determine the winners and losers in the game; as well as those who will be the lighting giants of the future”, explains our recent report ‘Smart Buildings: The Lighting Controls Business’.
Backed by GE’s deep pockets, Current certainly has a great advantage in becoming a leader in the lighting sector but that in turn will open new doors as lighting vies to become the heart of the ‘Smart Building’. “The transition to LEDs for lighting has come at the same time as the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), or in this case the Building Internet of Things (BIoT), which is about to disrupt the building automation systems industry and opens up the possibility for lighting control to play a much more important role”, Memoori’s in-depth analysis shows.
This deal and other signs, such as last month’s record breaking lighting order from JPMorgan Chase & Co., certainly suggest that GE’s Current has the capability and ambition to lead the lighting and building automation sector in the years to come.