3M New Ventures – the corporate venture arm of 3M – announced an equity stake in Toronto-based Smart Energy Instruments (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 US$5 million (or $5.6 million Canadian dollars). Other details of the transaction were not disclosed.
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 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.