May 11, 2023 - Economy

National Grid's venture arm pours $14 million into two startups

Illustration of an electrical plug and cord forming the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

National Grid Partners, the venture arm of the U.K.-based utility company, disclosed two new investments it made in Q1: Modern Hydrogen and EV.energy.

Why it matters: These deals — especially the backing of natural gas decarbonization company Modern Hydrogen — represent National Grid's updated focus on becoming fossil-free by 2050.

Details: NGP invested a total of $14 million across both companies, though it's not disclosing the exact breakdown.

  • Its backing of Modern Hydrogen (formerly Modern Electron) is part of a $38.2 million extension of its Series B round. The Bothwell, Wash.-based startup's technology removes carbon from natural gas.
  • NGP's investment into EV.energy is part of the first close of the startup's current fundraising. The U.K.-based company, whose software lets electric vehicle owners optimize the time at which they charge their cars and helps utility companies better manage that customer charging load.

Between the lines: National Grid is working with both companies, albeit at different stages, as either a customer (EV.Energy) or on setting up a pilot (Modern Hydrogen).

  • That's the case for about 80% of the companies its venture arm has backed so far.

Zooming out: The areas in which National Grid Partners invests are largely dictated by its parent company's own business priorities, explains NGP president Lisa Lambert.

  • The venture division spent its initial years focused on backing startups helping with modernizing and management of assets.
  • Now, expect it do more deals in the clean energy and decarbonization areas.
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