Memoori analysis of investments in smart buildings in the last five years finds that of the top 25 multiple investors, the Corporate Venture Capital arm of Schneider Electric leads the ranking.
Participating in 28 funding rounds since 2016 to date, SE Ventures is the top investor in the smart buildings space.
Note that the Memoori smart buildings definition excludes investments in utility-scale grid technologies, mobility, electric vehicle charging, 3D printing, robotics and incubator investments. Including these areas, SE Ventures has completed 34 investments in total to date, according to its web site.
Schneider Electric announced a dedicated in-house venture unit in November 2018, to ramp up investments in a significant initiative to support innovation and partner with startups.
They had previously made investments with mixed results through Aster Capital who operated a joint fund financed by Alstom, Solvay, and Schneider Electric. SE Ventures aims to invest in six areas: energy management; the transition to renewable energy; cyber security; automation software for both the home, buildings, and factories; artificial intelligence and industrial IoT. To date, they have invested in around 10 or more new startups annually, since their foundation.
This article highlights some of the diverse investments that Schneider Electric is pursuing. The corporate VC unit is funding companies beyond the immediate needs of corporate strategic interests and operates independently, according to a recent interview with Heriberto Diarte, Head of Schneider Electric Ventures.
In the building management sector, SE Ventures invested in a $8 million Series D funding round of Clockworks Analytics, a US provider of a cloud-based building analytics platform, in December 2020. The company was formerly known as KGS Buildings. Schneider Electric previously invested $2 million in the company in 2016.
Funding for the computer vision sector has included investing in Anyvision, an Israeli company providing face recognition solutions and Scandit, a Swiss developer of a mobile computer vision software enabling barcode scanning, text and object recognition for enterprises.
In the data centers vertical, Iceotope, a UK developer of immersive liquid cooling technology received a strategic investment from SE Ventures in October 2019.
In the Smart Home sector, SE Ventures was the lead investor in an $18 million Series B round in October 2018 for Sense, the US developer of a home intelligence platform, which helps homeowners identify how to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprints. Sense technology has since been incorporated into Schneider Electric’s Wiser Energy Home Power Monitor and the Square D Energy Center.
In Australia, Schneider Electric provided venture funding in 2019 to develop Clipsal Solar as a start-up business targeting PV rooftop installations as a provider of customized advice on how solar and storage can be used to substantially reduce household energy costs.
In May 2021, Schneider Electric made a strategic investment in geo (green energy options), the leading supplier of In-Home Displays (IHDs) to the UK’s Smart Metering program, with over 5 million units deployed to UK households and the number growing all the time. And in October 2021, SE Ventures led a $10 million Series A round for Wattbuy, an operator of a clean energy platform that empowers consumers to choose more sustainable, affordable energy options.
Investments in the cybersecurity area have included Claroty, participating in a $140 million Series D round in Jun 2021 and Finite State, participating in a $30 million Series B round in Aug 2021. Founded in 2017, Columbus, Ohio-based Finite State provides firmware layer cybersecurity controls that are purpose-built for connected devices and their supply chains. The Finite State Platform automatically analyses each device, allowing users to identify risk across a comprehensive matrix of factors.
In the energy sector in May 2019, Schneider Electric invested in AutoGrid, a Silicon Valley startup based in Redwood City, California, a provider of a software platform applying AI to flexible energy resource optimization. The aim was to accelerate AI adoption in the power sector and put Autogrid’s data analytics and machine learning to use in managing distributed energy resources and microgrids for industrial and commercial customers. The investment makes Schneider Electric a major shareholder in the company and will give it roughly a 10% stake in AutoGrid, Heriberto Diarte said in an interview.
At the seed funding stage, SE Ventures has participated in a $3 million funding round of Station A, a French developer of an AI-powered clean energy marketplace for commercial buildings.
Our Startups Report series provides an overview of recent investments in the Smart buildings space, by a range of corporate VC investors including Schneider Electric.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.