GE, Duke, National Grid to help cleantech reach commercial scale

GE, Duke, National Grid to help cleantech reach commercial scale

Sometimes money alone isn't enough to help a startup succeed. That's why a long-time advisor to General Electric's ecomagination initiative — a model for corporate investment in clean energy technology — is founding a new investment firm that aims to link promising startups with big businesses that can help them scale.

The company, Broadscale Group, has created a network of power and utility companies with an interest in cleantech and renewable energy innovation, including Duke Energy, GE and National Grid and other members to be named soon.

Broadscale has also forged a strategic relationship with Pegasus Capital Advisors to invest in deals that it identifies. Pegasus manages approximately $2.7 billion, including a portfolio of companies in the business of clean energy or sustainable resource management.

Broadscale seeks to go beyond traditional venture capital firms in helping startups negotiate the "valley of death" that can often prevent them from achieving commercial scale — issues such as complex regulations, long adoption cycles for emerging technologies, and the significant capital needed to create viable manufacturing and distribution operations.

On the flip side, it can help big companies identify innovations that might not otherwise be supported or funded within the traditional confines of a corporate research and development organization.

Image of jigsaw puzzle provided by Palto via Shutterstock.

Broadscale's creator, Andrew Shapiro, is the founder and former CEO of GreenOrder, a strategy firm that has worked with more than 100 large enterprises on energy and environmental innovation since 2000. Shapiro also founded cleantech incubator GO Ventures and cofounded the US Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance. He has been involved with GE's Ecomagination initiative since 2004.

"The key to unlocking progress in this area is combining the drive, creativity, and technical advances of the best entrepreneurial companies with the market knowledge and reach of our industry-leading network members," says Shapiro. "Capital is necessary, but not sufficient. New models of collaboration are needed to scale up breakthrough solutions. Broadscale will connect the right market participants, align their financial interests, and partner with them to turn innovation into impact."

Over time, Broadscale plans to expand its network of corporate backers into real estate and transportation.

This piece originally appeared on Sustainable Business and is reprinted here with permission.