Canadian company develops electronic chipsets with high precision, real-time monitoring capabilities for smart grids. St. Paul, Minn. — August 19, 2014 — Today, 3M New Ventures (3M’s corporate venture organization) announced an equity investment in Smart Energy Instruments (SEI), based in Toronto, Canada, which provides electronic chipsets with precise, time-synchronized measurement capabilities for smart grid applications in the electric utility industry. Existing investors, Venturelink Funds, ArcTern Ventures (formerly MaRS Cleantech Fund) and the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation, also bolstered their support and joined the financing round of CAD $5.6M led by 3M New Ventures. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Aging grid infrastructures and the need for higher reliability and efficiency are driving the installation of more precise monitoring devices. Furthermore, the exponential growth in variable renewable energy generation, particularly solar and wind, is greatly altering system dynamic behavior, necessitating time-synchronized real-time measurements to operate the grid. According to a new report from Navigant Research, cumulative worldwide electric utility spending on asset management and condition monitoring systems will total close to USD$50 billion from 2014 to 2023.
SEI’s core chipset is a powerful computational platform with unprecedented measurement precision and low power consumption, which can be directly integrated into today’s Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs). It brings OEMs and utilities a significant competitive advantage in functions such as power quality monitoring and fault detection. Being a ubiquitous technology platform, SEI provides equipment manufacturers with the base technology for future distributed infrastructure monitoring applications, both within and beyond electrical power grids.
The investment will accelerate SEI’s product development and commercialize a number of opportunities for the deployment of SEI’s IED core chipset by global OEMs and strategic partners.
“We are honored that 3M is joining our team of investors and proud of this confirmation of SEI’s progress over the last year.” said SEI CEO Jeff Dionne. “We’ve hit several key milestones in our company’s growth, and the utility market is now primed to take full advantage of our solutions to achieve what they have been promising with smart grid technologies. We see 3M as an important strategic partner to jointly develop and commercialize innovative solutions for utilities and electrical equipment manufacturers.”
As a leading supplier to the energy industry, 3M’s Electronics and Energy Business Group is building new platforms for greater relevance to the energy sector. SEI’s chipset platform will be a key part of 3M’s portfolio for grid automation. “We are extremely impressed with SEI’s technology and forward-thinking approach to the utility marketplace,” said Robert Visser, VP Research & Development of 3M’s Electronics and Energy Business Group. “SEI has demonstrated clear technical leadership and expertise in developing a compelling solution for the next generation of Intelligent Electronic Devices. We are excited about the opportunity to support the development of a new standard for multi-dimensional electrical measurements in the utility industry.”
“SEI’s unique technology will strengthen 3M’s leadership in the energy sector and enable the development of ubiquitous infrastructure sensing and monitoring solutions” added Stefan Gabriel, President 3M New Ventures. “We are delighted to announce our first investment in Canada in an area of such relevance for the sustainability of our future energy systems.”
About Smart Energy Instruments (SEI)
Smart Energy Instruments (SEI) develops game-changing, synchronous measurement technologies for the burgeoning “smart grid” to address today’s global energy-environment challenges. SEI’s mission is to create a sustainable electricity future through higher grid efficiency, reliability and renewables integration using ubiquitous synchronized measurements. Incorporated in 2004, SEI is based in Toronto, Canada with offices in Tokyo, Japan and Silicon Valley, California. For more information, visit www.se-instruments.com.
About 3M 3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs about 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow @3MNews on Twitter.
About 3M New Ventures 3M New Ventures, headquartered in Munich, Germany, identifies and invests in innovative companies and disruptive new technologies of strategic relevance for 3M. Recent investments made by 3M New Ventures include minority stakes in TaKaDu, a leading provider of advanced analytics services to monitor water networks; Lixivia, a Chilean company that has developed an engineering process to increase recuperation of copper sulfurate; VocalZoom, working on a technology to capture quality audio signals in noisy environments. For more information, visit www.3M.com/newventures.
About ArcTern Ventures ArcTern Ventures (www.arcternventures.com) is a privately-backed Canadian venture fund focused on early-stage cleantech investing. ArcTern has a unique investment model through its partnership with one of the largest innovation centres in the world, MaRS Discovery District. Through MaRS Cleantech, ArcTern is able to provide strategic advisory services and introductions to global corporate partners.
3M Media Contact: Donna Fleming Runyon, 651-736-7646 or 3M Investor Contacts: Matt Ginter, 651-733-8206