Tuesday brings some breaking news on VC and strategic investment into two key pieces of the emerging distributed, networked energy landscape: software to turn microgrids into portfolios of grid support systems and cutting-edge visualization and data analytics for utilities to map their increasingly complex power grids.
VC funding for Blue Pillar
Blue Pillar, the startup that’s built a business monitoring critical backup power systems into a cloud-based microgrid management platform, has raised $11.2 million in venture capital, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The investment was part of a $13.9 million offering and closed on Feb. 10, according to the filing.
Blue Pillar has previously raised about $10 million from investors including Claremont Creek Ventures, Arsenal Venture Partners, Allos Ventures and OnPoint Technologies, the U.S. Army's venture capital fund. Founded in 2006, the Indianapolis, Ind.-based company has built a software platform, dubbed Digital Energy Internet, to integrate critical backup power systems and generators with the HVAC, lighting, and other building energy assets that need to stay on during emergencies.
Blue Pillar has customers including Duke University Health System, Tenet Healthcare and the U.S. Air Force using its service, and has taken as its next task the integration of those backup assets to the grid at large. Of the 150 megawatts of backup power the company now monitors and manages, about 50 megawatts are being put to use in demand response programs in Florida, Texas and New York, CEO Tom Willie told Greentech Media in October.
That’s when Blue Pillar launched its Aurora platform, a cloud-based software suite meant to bring its internet-ready data store for whole-building energy analysis, built on its years' worth of data from its 160 building sites and counting, to a broader audience.
Strategic funding for Space-Time Insight
Space-Time Insight, the startup with lots of big U.S. utilities using its mapping and visualization software that incorporates real-time data and predictive analytics, announced Tuesday that it has raised $8 million in a round led by new strategic partners, European utility E.ON and Japanese IT services (and energy storage systems) provider NEC.
Space-Time Insight has previously raised about $45 million, most recently with a $20 million Series C round in 2013, from investors including Zouk Capital, Opus Capital Ventures, EnerTech Capital and Novus Energy Partners. A majority of Space-Time Insight's current investors also participated in the new strategic round, according to Tuesday’s announcement.
The Fremont, Calif.-based startup counts Southern California Edison, Hydro One, Florida Power & Light, San Diego Gas & Electric and California’s grid operator, California ISO, among its clients. But it’s also been looking abroad for the past 18 months or so, particularly in Europe and Asia -- two markets where its new strategic partners could no doubt play an important role.
In 2014, Space-Time Insight launched a strategic partnership with NEC targeted at Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, and the new funding will be used “to accelerate growth on multiple continents,” according to Tuesday’s announcement. Germany’s E.ON, meanwhile, has been making strategic partnerships across a broad portfolio of distributed energy providers such as Sungevity and software providers like AutoGrid and FirstFuel, as it seeks to spin off its conventional power business to focus on distributed energy and “empowering customers” in Europe’s competitive energy markets.