Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

SEI receives funding of $5 million to develop smart grid technology

Iain Morris
September 2, 2014
Chipset developer Smart Energy Instruments (SEI) has received a funding injection of $5 million it says will support its efforts to develop high-precision, real-time monitoring capabilities for smart grids.

The round of funding was led by investment company 3M (St Paul, MN, USA), which aims to bolster its presence in the energy sector through an equity stake in SEI.

Other stakeholders, including Venturelink Funds (Toronto, Canada), ArcTern Ventures (Toronto, Canada) and the Ontario Capital Growth Corp (Toronto, Canada) also bolstered their equity in SEI (Oakville, Canada) during the funding round, which raised $5 million in total for the operator.

“We are honored that 3M is joining our team of investors,” said Jeff Dionne, SEI, chief executive. “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,” he added.

SEI says its technology can easily be integrated into intelligent electronic devices, giving equipment makers and utilities a competitive advantage in areas like 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,” said Stefan Gabriel, the president of 3M New Ventures.

Both SEI and 3M have argued there is a need for more precise monitoring devices given the ageing of grid infrastructure and the surge in usage of renewable energy sources.

“We are impressed with SEI’s forward-thinking approach to the utility marketplace,” said Robert Visser, the vice president of research and 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.”

Navigant reckons utility spending on asset management and condition monitoring systems will amount to between $50 million between 2014 and 2023.
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