ABB Funds Danish Startup Developing Power Asset Monitoring Platform
ABB recently invested in OKTO GRID, a Danish startup developing an IoT-enabled power asset monitoring platform for transformers.
Through its venture investment arm, Swedish-Swiss tech giant ABB recently announced it’s investing an undisclosed sum in Copenhagen-based OKTO GRID, a startup developing an IoT platform for managing power assets.
ABB recently invested in OKTO GRID, a startup developing an AI-run condition monitoring platform for power transformers. Image used courtesy of ABB
ABB will contribute its experience in electrification and digitalization to help OKTO GRID enhance its product and reach commercial readiness. The minority investment was channeled through ABB Technology Ventures, marking its 11th venture capital deal in 2022.
Founded in 2019, OKTO GRID markets a predictive maintenance platform to help transformer infrastructure operators manage electricity assets without taking their service offline. Electricity distributors and generators can keep track of condition/status changes through OKTO GRID’s event detection algorithms and assess performance. The company says its device can be mounted in under 10 minutes without any downtime or additional tooling. It also works with multiple types of transformers developed by different manufacturers.
Extending Transformer Life Cycle
OKTO GRID says its approach will help extend transformers’ lifespan by an additional 40 years beyond the current 20- to 30-year range.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical life expectancy of transformers is about 20 years or 180,000 hours when operated under ideal loading conditions. Surrounding temperatures and other environmental factors can impact a given transformer’s life cycle, as its condition mainly centers around the thermal degradation of its insulation systems. Still, many transformers outlive that life expectancy, with the average age of installed large power transformers in the U.S. being 38 to 40 years, per DOE figures.
OKTO GRID’s solution would be of particular interest to ABB’s electrification business, which markets digital asset management tools to power and distribution customers. It’s expanding its digital energy management portfolio, recently acquiring Austria-based industry player ASKI Energy in October 2022 for an undisclosed sum.
In announcing the OKTO GRID investment earlier this month, ABB Electrification Service Division President Stuart Thompson said the solution would help companies make the necessary upgrades to their aging electrical systems, meeting the demand for higher performance and better reliability.
At a speaking event last November, Thompson advised supply chain executives to prioritize upgrades that can extend the life of their existing systems, according to reporting from the American Journal of Transportation. Some enhancements include replacing non-digital circuit breakers with sensor-enabled versions or adding smart monitoring tools to identify potential hazards, manage asset conditions and analyze real-time data.
ABB Joins Several Existing Investors
According to Crunchbase data, OKTO GRID has raised about $4 million. Most of that capital stems from a $3.2 million seed round closed in December 2022 with participation from Netherlands-based startup accelerator Rockstart, Danish foundation EMD Fonden, and Elewit, the corporate venture capital arm of Spanish power transmission operator Redeia.
In 2021, the company raised a pre-seed round totaling 6.2 million DKK (or about $900,000) from Rockstart, Danish venture capital firm Keystones, and Swedish investor Mist Ventures. It also received a matching loan from Vækstfonden, the Danish state’s investment fund, and additional funding from Innovation Fund Denmark.
In announcing its recent seed round, OKTO GRID said the funding would support further product development and its international expansion plans. The company aims to lead the European market for condition monitoring systems involving transformers and wind turbines within the next three years.
OKTO GRID has prospective customers in Denmark, Spain, Slovenia, Belgium, and Italy. Also, in a pitch competition last year, it was selected by Slovenian state-owned electric transmission firm ELES (or Elektro-Slovenija) to enter discussions about a proof of concept and further collaboration.