National Grid Partners, a Los Gatos, CA-based corporate venture capital and innovation arm of National Grid plc., one of the world’s largest utilities, announced a streamlined leadership structure and refreshed investment focus to accelerate progress toward net zero and scale innovation across global energy networks.
Led by Steve Smith, recently appointed president of NGP, these efforts bring National Grid’s strategy, innovation and startup investing together under one umbrella. The new structure is designed to maximize impact and further build on the parent company’s transformational work to provide a clean, fair and affordable energy transition.
Smith has made the following appointments and promotions to lead this charge:
- Vice President, Investments – Pradeep Tagare: With a decade-long track record in venture and startups – including 13 years at Intel Capital – Pradeep will run the investing function of National Grid Partners, identifying technologies poised to make the greatest impact on the energy transition. He previously had been Vice President, Corporate Venture Capital and will now lead NGP’s full investment team.
- Vice President, Business Development – Brett Chandler: Brett has more than 14 years of experience bridging utility and startup cultures to embed innovation into utilities. His team engages startups with National Grid’s core business units to generate mutual strategic and financial value. Brett has served in this role in an acting capacity since early 2023.
- Vice President, Innovation and Venture Acceleration – Gerard Kelly: A former startup founder and CEO, Gerard has helped design and oversee innovation projects across National Grid with the potential to generate more than $1 billion in impact over the next 10 years. He will now manage innovation and venture acceleration efforts across the U.S. and U.K., which includes overseeing the NextGrid Alliance, a first-of-its-kind network of more than 100 electric utilities around the world.
NGP also has sharpened its investment strategy to focus on four pillars. Derived from conversations with startup founders, utilities and other innovation leaders to identify the most pressing challenges in the clean energy transition, the pillars include:
- Future Electric Networks: Upgrading and rebuilding the grid to boost renewable energy, increase reliability and meet new electric demand while reaching net-zero.
- Customer First: Delivering solutions to help customers manage a fair and affordable energy transition.
- Efficiency Through Innovation: Deploying artificial intelligence, cloud and edge computing, and other emerging technologies to improve operational performance.
- Decarbonizing Gas: Delivering innovative technologies to reduce leakage and decarbonize our networks.
To integrate more closely with Silicon Valley, NGP is moving to Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road, the global epicenter of the venture capital industry. The firm has offices in Boston, London, and New York.
National Grid Partners has invested more than $400m in 43 companies since its 2018 launch, with seven exits.
In addition, NGP has delivered a step change to National Grid’s innovation strategy by introducing hundreds of startup technologies, identifying future challenges, and developing prototypes and business models to meet those challenges.