The grand-old daddy of the industrial revolution continues to lead the way in Digital Transformation with new investments, hiring, and innovation. Global Automation and Energy Management company Schneider Electric released a $565 million Global Investment fund to expand with new hires and acquisitions. These investments are made in Synapticon and Titan AES. As part of team expansion, ABB’s Grant Allen and Qualcomm’s Varun Jain would take on lead investing roles at SE Ventures. Grant Allen and Varun Jain will bring their extensive global venture experience to SEV, and join Kevin Deneen, formerly of Aster Capital, to focus on investments in areas such as energy management, industrial automation, and e-mobility.
Trivia: 44 Acquisitions: Founded in 1836, SE has acquired 44 companies and invested in countless others.
In the past, SEV invested in category leaders such as AutoGrid, Claroty, Element Analytics, and Sense. They recently closed on investments with Titan AES. Titan AES is a start-up offering novel Li-ion Battery Management system. On the other hand, Synapticon is an advanced motion control platform for industrial robots. SEV is expected to invest in at least 10 or more new startups annually. These funds are specifically invested in categories such as Industrial Automation, Robotics, E-mobility, and Energy Management.
Currently, Schneider Electric provides Energy Management products and solutions to domestic and industrial customers. The company has made rapid strides in the automation and IoT-enabled industry by both investing and innovating new technologies. For example, EcoStruxure. EcoStruxure is an IoT-enabled, plug-and-play, open, interoperable architecture and platform, in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. In the automotive industry, SE continues to transform facility management, manufacturing processes, IT structures and Mobility with IoT-enabled architecture and Digital Automation Solutions.
Grant Allen is joining SEV from Zurich-based ABB. At ABB, he led global ventures, overseeing a portfolio of 30+ direct and fund investments, including Bonsai AI (acquired by Microsoft), Industrial Defender (acquired by Lockheed Martin), Soft Robotics, and MineSense.
At SEV, Grant would extend his AI investment vision that was instrumental in growing ABB Technology Ventures to become the most active CVC in the robotics/applied AI space, behind Google.
Heriberto Diarte, head of SEV and Schneider Electric’s external innovation activities, said —
“SEV is growing and ramping up our open innovation activities. At a time when many of our peers are tightening investments, we are continuing to build our team and invest in disruptive ventures where Schneider Electric can be a value-add partner and market catalyst. The addition of Varun and Grant, two seasoned and respected investors, is another clear sign of our resolve to become a serious player in the venture ecosystem.“
Grant Allen said —
“We are seeking absolutely best-in-class startups aligned with Schneider’s mission of bringing energy and efficiency to enable life, progress and sustainability for all. We want to see new technologies and business models transforming the way we live and work, how we produce and consume energy, and how we run buildings and factories. Supported by Schneider’s dollars, domain expertise and global customer reach, we can have a dramatic impact on the trajectory of our investments.”
Varun Jain, previously with Qualcomm Ventures, brings a strong background in industrial automation, e-mobility, and SaaS.
Varun added, “SEV is a global corporate-backed venture fund, where our incentives are fully aligned with those of the founders we back,” said Jain. “We are going to target companies that not only bear the promise of outsized financial returns but are also in a position where they can leverage Schneider Electric’s vast technical resources and distribution reach to radically grow their business.”
The Future Ahead
2019 is witnessing a major push into robotics, autonomous vehicles, IoT-enabled energy management, and battery storage technologies. Innovations in battery storage and e-vehicles have put the industrial automation and automotive industries in the driving seat in a growing economy. We expect SE to continue with their global market expansion and push for IoT-specific innovations in the Energy Management sector.