New framework deepens relationship between the utility industry’s most active corporate venture investor and parent company National Grid to scale energy innovations faster.
LOS GATOS, Calif., Feb. 1, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — National Grid Partners (NGP), the corporate venture capital and innovation arm of one of the world’s largest utilities, today announced a streamlined leadership structure and refreshed investment focus to accelerate progress toward net zero and scale innovation across global energy networks.
Led by Steve Smith, recently appointed president of NGP, these efforts bring National Grid’s strategy, innovation and startup investing together under one umbrella. The new structure is designed to maximize impact and further build on the parent company’s transformational work to provide a clean, fair and affordable energy transition.
“Utilities must move faster to scale innovations that can slash emissions, support soaring energy demand and create the utility of the future,” said Smith, a veteran utility regulator and financial industry innovator who joined the British energy giant in late 2021 as group head of Strategy, Innovation and Market Analytics. “National Grid Partners already offers critical financial resources and expert advice to some of the most exciting companies in climate tech and beyond. Our new structure connects entrepreneurs even more closely with our world-class innovation teams to bring essential technologies to market at industry leading speed.”
The new structure will draw on the NGP team’s combined 225 years of venture investing and utility operations experience to help startups scale new technologies in months, not years. Smith has made the following appointments and promotions to lead this charge:
- Vice President, Investments – Pradeep Tagare: With a decade-long track record in venture and startups – including 13 years at Intel Capital – Pradeep will run the investing function of National Grid Partners, identifying technologies poised to make the greatest impact on the energy transition. He previously had been Vice President, Corporate Venture Capital and will now lead NGP’s full investment team.
- Vice President, Business Development – Brett Chandler: Brett has more than 14 years of experience bridging utility and startup cultures to embed innovation into utilities. His team engages startups with National Grid’s core business units to generate mutual strategic and financial value. Brett has served in this role in an acting capacity since early 2023.
- Vice President, Innovation and Venture Acceleration – Gerard Kelly: A former startup founder and CEO, Gerard has helped design and oversee innovation projects across National Grid with the potential to generate more than $1 billion in impact over the next 10 years. He will now manage innovation and venture acceleration efforts across the U.S. and U.K., which includes overseeing the NextGrid Alliance, a first-of-its-kind network of more than 100 electric utilities around the world.
NGP also has sharpened its investment strategy to focus on four pillars. Derived from conversations with startup founders, utilities and other innovation leaders to identify the most pressing challenges in the clean energy transition, the pillars include:
- Future Electric Networks: Upgrading and rebuilding the grid to boost renewable energy, increase reliability and meet new electric demand while reaching net-zero.
- Customer First: Delivering solutions to help customers manage a fair and affordable energy transition.
- Efficiency Through Innovation: Deploying artificial intelligence, cloud and edge computing, and other emerging technologies to improve operational performance.
- Decarbonizing Gas: Delivering innovative technologies to reduce leakage and decarbonize our networks.
To integrate more closely with Silicon Valley, NGP is moving to Menlo Park’s celebrated Sand Hill Road, the global epicenter of the venture capital industry.
National Grid Partners has invested more than $400 million in 43 companies since its 2018 launch, with seven successful exits and an industry leading percentage of portfolio “unicorns” valued at more than $1 billion. The organization has been named the utility industry’s most active corporate venture investor by Bloomberg NEF, and it recently unveiled a unique evaluation framework for measuring the impact of its portfolio companies on carbon emissions.
In addition, NGP has delivered a step change to National Grid’s innovation strategy by introducing hundreds of startup technologies, identifying future challenges, and developing prototypes and business models to meet those challenges.
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 across four pillars: Future Electric Networks; Decarbonizing Gas; Customer First; and Efficiency Through Innovation. By providing corporate venture capital, business development counsel and direct integration with National Grid’s innovation team, NGP is accelerating the energy transition and helping innovators reach critical scale faster. We also convene the NextGrid Alliance (www.ngalliance.energy), an innovation network of senior executives from more than 100 worldwide utility companies. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, NGP has offices in Boston, London, and New York. Visit ngpartners.com or follow us on Twitter (@ngpartners_) and LinkedIn.
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