3M New Ventures, the corporate venture arm of 3M, announced an equity stake in Toronto-based Smart Energy Instruments, Inc. (SEI), a move that will further accelerate SEI’s efforts in developing electronic chipsets with high-precision, real-time monitoring capabilities for smart grids, as well as give 3M a bigger presence in the energy sector. The investment from 3M New Ventures comes as several existing stakeholders also bolstered their equity in SEI, including Venturelink Funds, ArcTern Ventures and the Ontario Capital Growth Corp. Together, the financing round, led by 3M New Ventures, totaled $5 million (or $5.6 million Canadian dollars). Other details of the transaction were not disclosed.
"We are honored that 3M is joining our team of investors," 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 smart grid technologies. We see 3M as an important strategic partner to jointly develop and commercialize innovative solutions for utilities and electrical equipment manufacturers."
SEI's technology platform is based on a core set of chips with unprecedented measurement precision and low-power consumption that can be integrated into today's intelligent electronic devices. It gives equipment manufacturers and utilities a huge competitive edge in functions such as grid load monitoring, fault detection and isolation.
"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 of 3M New Ventures.
Aging grid infrastructures and the surge in renewable energy sources particularly solar and wind are driving the need for more precise monitoring devices. 3M's Electronics and Energy Business Group is building new platforms for greater relevance to the energy sector, and SEI's chips will be a key part of 3M's portfolio for grid automation.
"We are impressed with SEI's forward-thinking approach to the utility marketplace," said Robert Visser, vice president of research & development of 3M's Electronics and Energy Business Group. "We now have the opportunity to support a new standard for multi-dimensional electrical measurements in the utility industry."