Apr 11, 2024 - Business

National Grid's VC arm makes three Q1 investments

Illustration of a dollar sign with an electric bolt through the center

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

National Grid Partners, the venture arm of the U.K.-based utility company, invested a total of $17 million last quarter in three startups: Captura, Luminance, and Transcend.

The big picture: Investing in startups that can improve mundane operational tasks is of as much interest to NGP as backing energy-related innovations.

Zoom in:

  • Captura: NGP's investment is part of the company's Series A extension announced today. The Pasadena, Calif. upstart is a developer of large-scale direct ocean carbon capture technology.
  • Luminance: NGP participated in the startup's recent $40 million Series B round. The U.K.-based company uses AI to streamline the analysis and negotiation of legal documents.
  • Transcend: It raised a $20 million Series B round last fall, but recently added NGP as a strategic investor. The Princeton, N.J.-based company's design software aims to make critical infrastructure engineering more efficient.

Yes, but: While NGP is actively backing new companies, it's also spending significant energy on helping its existing portfolio companies navigate the tight funding market, says Pradeep Tagare, head of investments.

  • "The current portfolio is taking much more of our attention right now than it would in a normal scenario," he adds.
  • NGP has now backed 46 companies and four venture firms since its debut in 2018. It also made 15 follow-on investments just in the past year.

Zoom out: Regarding AI, Tagare says that a lot of the promising applications have been in areas like predicting maintenance needs or helping field engineers.

  • What's not been convincing yet: "Some [AI] models trying to predict customer behavior, or trying to predict what's going to happen in your home and change the demand in that home by turning on appliances and turning them off."
Go deeper