Heriberto Diarte, Schneider Electric’s Head of Open Innovation and Ventures, addressing media at the Innovation Summit, Nov. 13, 2018.

Schneider Electric Launches Venture Fund and Expanded EcoStruxure Offerings

Nov. 13, 2018
Schneider Electric Ventures has several projects already underway.

Schneider Electric North America, Boston, announced a new effort to support startups pursuing innovations in sustainability and energy efficiency at its 2018 Innovation Summit in Atlanta this week.

The conference brought together more than 1,300 executives and thought-leaders from a wide variety of industries at the Atlanta Hilton Downtown for two days of high-level discussions and to learn about the latest Schneider offerings around its EcoStruxure platform for integrating connected intelligence and analytics in buildings, data centers, microgrids, factories, machines and homes.

Heriberto Diarte, Schneider Electric’s head of Open Innovation and Ventures, told a gathering of press and analysts that Schneider Electric Ventures has several projects already underway. Initial investments in major projects include:

• eIQ Mobility, a start-up and spinoff from Schneider Electric Incubator, which enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing "Electric Fleet as a Service " to large commercial fleets.

• Clipsal Solar, a business venture for on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia.

• Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, focused on fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000, and business and technical resources they need to launch successful ventures.

Through its different investment vehicles, Schneider Electric also made equity investments in six companies:

• Sense, load disaggregation technology

• Element Analytics, industrial big data analytics

• Habiteo, 3D specialist for new residential housing

• QMerit, described as the “Uber” for contractors & MRO spend

• KGS, predictive engine for just-in-time maintenance

• Claroty, cybersecurity for industrial OT networks

Schneider Electric Ventures is providing funding, incubation and partnerships, and has committed to invest between €300 million and €500 million ($338 million to $563 million) over the next few years in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and said it welcomes ideas from innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Schneider Electric Ventures is our way of helping innovators turn their vision into reality and make a real difference to the way we live and work,” said Schneider Electric Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, at the Innovation Summit North America. “Schneider Electric Ventures demonstrates our commitment to innovation, helping innovators and entrepreneurs who share our values develop their ideas and gain access to global markets.”

Schneider Electric said it already prioritizes innovation at every level. The company spends €1 billion ($1.1 billion) a year on R&D, and pointed to its EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform as an example of its innovations in connected energy management and industrial automation.

Elsewhere at the conference, a series of presentations and panel discussions focused on the potential of connected intelligence to shape infrastructure and production in as-yet-unimagined ways and on the value of partnerships to bring those visions to reality. Many of the discussions also highlighted examples showing the ways data is already being used to support better processes and better decisions, such as the company’s work with Montgomery County, MD, to improve power reliability and public safety operations at no capital cost to the county through an energy-as-a-service partnership with Duke Energy.

The conference also featured an Innovation Hub divided into the many domains where the company’s EcoStruxure platform is being applied in a three-tier approach — connected devices, edge computing and big-data analytics — with demonstrations of systems for gathering and using data to support decision making.

Schneider rolled out updates and new products related to its EcoStruxure offerings:

  • EcoStruxure Machine got new platform enhancements including an Advisor capability to help interpret data gathered from machines using its connected components and software;
  • EcoStruxure Data Center got enhancements including an IT Expert remote monitoring platform;
  • Introduced EcoStruxure Microgrid Operation and updated its Energy Control Center microgrid management platform;
  • Added Wiser Energy energy management to its EcoStruxure Power residential offering along with arc flash and circuit breaker introductions;
  • Gave a roadmap to new features in its EcoStruxure Building portfolio for 2019, including Advisor functions and new capabilities for connected rooms, security and building operations.

The talk about EcoStruxure was so constant that CEO Tricoire joked that attendees should hear the word every two minutes during the Innovation Summit or suspect they've wandered into the wrong part of the building, which then became a bit of a game among Schneider personnel interjecting the word at random throughout the show.

—Doug Chandler in Atlanta

Updated 11/16/2018