Schneider + Greentown Labs = Renewable Energy Innovation Powerhouse

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Navigating the seas of today’s renewable energy revolution is a tricky business. Startups rise and fall like mushrooms, and some legacy companies have had trouble figuring it out. With that in mind, this week CleanTechnica is reporting from Atlanta, Georgia where the France-based global powerhouse Schneider Electric has convened its Digital Innovation Summit North America.

Schneider has roots in machine manufacturing that go back to 1836, and with its 200th anniversary in range, the company is making some major moves into the sparkling green future — to be announced later this week.

Catching Up With The Renewable Energy Revolution

CleanTechnica hasn’t caught up with Schneider for a while, but if performance in the recent past is any indication get ready for some fireworks.

In January 2017, for example, the company partnered with Arcadia Power to pull US customers into the energy-as-a-service future, by offering its Wiser Air smart thermostat at no up-front cost. The year before, Schneider also partnered with EnergySage in a joint cash-back marketing campaign combines rooftop solar and Wiser Air.

Another recent partnership brings in the EV charging company EverCharge, with the goal of incentivizing EV charging at multi-tenant buildings.

Howdy, Partner

If you caught that thing about partnerships, that’s one key element in this week’s announcements.

A few months ago Schneider introduced its Schneider Electric Ventures arm to tap into the energy innovation ecosystem, and it’s a safe bet that renewable energy is front and center. Here’s the money quote from the company’s press release:

Innovation is the essential precursor to sustainable growth. Beyond the imperative of finding solutions that will protect our natural environment, companies need to satisfy non-stop growth in global energy demand, adapt equipment for a hyper-connected industrial ecosystem, and comply with ever-stricter regulation.

Good! There’s a lot to chew on in that press release, but for now let’s take a closer look at the three inaugural projects for Schneider Electric Ventures.

One is eIQ Mobility, a spinoff from the company’s own incubator. The project focuses on a “zero-risk” fleet servicing concept to motivate and scale up EV adoption among major fleet owners.

Another is Clipsal Solar, which is focused on nailing down the rooftop solar market.

The renewable energy magic really kicks up to the next level in the third announcement, a partnership with Greentown Labs for its startup fast-tracking “Bold Ideas Challenge.”

The challenge prize of a $25,000 grant plus team support is just a sweetener. The real meat is Schneider’s commitment to invest the big euros — anywhere from 300 to 500 million over the next few years, according to the company, “in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds,” with a special welcome for “innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their ideas into reality.”

Schneider Electric already made #4 in the 2016 Clean 200 list of companies driving the renewable energy transition, so look for them to score another high ranking the next time the list is due for an update (a project of the organizations Corporate Knights and As You Sow).

Catching Up With Greentown Labs

Schneider is also making some big investment moves in big data, cybersecurity and 3-D housing applications among others, but the Greentown Labs partnership is probably the most interesting bit of news from a renewable energy perspective.

Greentown bills itself as the “largest cleantech startup incubator in the US,” so there’s that.

In addition to Schneider Electric, Greentown’s partner list is a veritable who’s who of global companies that are actively seeking innovation in the renewable energy field.

Not for nothing but the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is also on board the Greentown train as a “key partner,” so stay tuned for more on that.

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Image: via Schneider Electric.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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