GE Ventures Joins Energy Excelerator as Sponsor
The Energy Excelerator is a dual-track accelerator program focused on startups that want to “solve the world’s energy challenges, starting in Hawaii.” It was founded in 2013 with seed funding from the federal Department of Energy, but found its stride in August of that year with a $30 million boost from the Office of Naval Research. To date, the program has invested $10 million in 32 portfolio companies that have since gone on to raise $207 million in follow-on funding.
GE Ventures invests millions in the energy sector every year, as well as in healthcare, manufacturing, and software. The venture capital firm recently backed The Robotics Hub, a new startup accelerator in Pittsburgh. And it’s no stranger to Hawaii.
GE Ventures invested in California-based Stem, Inc. in 2013, a month after the company was accepted into the Energy Excelerator program. Founded in 2009, the company was bolstered by the accellerator’s $1 million in grant funding, and last year partnered with Hawaiian Electric on a grid response demonstration project that installed behind-the-meter energy storage for commercial and industrial customers in Honolulu.
Stem has drawn even more interest since, closing out a $27 million equity financing round in January and a $45 million Series C funding round earlier this month, the latter likely sparking the company’s expansion from the U.S. to Europe.
The sponsorship will translate into adding a GE Ventures representative to the Energy Excelerator’s strategic advisory board and providing cohort companies access to more support deploying and scaling their respective technologies. No doubt more details of the expanded relationship will be revealed at Thursday’s HVCA luncheon, which features a panel that includes Rick Robertson, Senior Director of Power & Water at GE Ventures.
“GE Ventures is a perfect partner because our view of the future is very similar,” said Energy Excelerator director Dawn Lippert in a statement. “We both see energy, water, transportation, security, and our economy as sets of interconnected systems – and that’s the approach we both take in building our portfolios.”
Energy Excelerator communications lead Lauren Tonokawa added that the GE Ventures partnership is especially timely.
“Yesterday, Governor Ige publicly announced he was against LNG,” she wrote in an email, news that one energy blog compared to a bomb dropping. “This makes innovation and new solutions even more important than ever if Hawaii is to reach it’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.”
Ige made his remarks at the Asia Pacific Resilience Summit, which continues through tomorrow. Tonokawa said that after Gov. Ige delivered his keynote, several Energy Excelerator companies took the same stage.
“Some of the biggest players in energy have their eyes on Hawaii and what is going on in its test bed,” the Energy Excelerator said in its press release. “Technologies demonstrated in Hawaii’s test bed, primarily through the Energy Excelerator program, are being closely watched by corporates, investors, utilities, and others in the U.S. mainland and around the world.”
Photo courtesy Energy Excelerator on Facebook.