Foreword by Lisa Lambert, chief technology and innovation officer, National Grid, founder and president, National Grid Partners
Energy: It is a word with many meanings, many contexts. We might have the energy to run a marathon. We can be energised by ideas. Energy can illuminate a city, or a country, or a planet.
At Global Corporate Venturing, the meaning of that word “energy” is evolving – and at a perfect time. More energy is coming into the corporate venture and innovation ecosystem, as a range of new entrants join established leaders. Two years ago, the company I work for launched the utility industry’s first Silicon Valley-based investment and innovation group, National Grid Partners (NGP), which I am proud to lead. And 2021 already is shaping up to be a year where the energy industry will be front and centre, as world leaders, scientists and everyday citizens focus more on sources of renewable power – and how to deliver it via infrastructure designed for an earlier time of monolithic, end-to-end providers.
With the business of energy increasingly disrupted, GCV is reimagining what had been a council of oil and gas companies and transforming it into a Global Energy Council. It now includes not only corporations like Shell, BP and Chevron (whose head of corporate venture, Barbara Berger, has served admirably as council chairwoman) but also utility companies like National Grid. The shift is opening up a horizon of new conversations and collaborations; as just one example, GCV is looking to replace the group’s annual meeting in Houston with a new event in the UK that will coincide with COP26, the UN’s climate change conference.
As this year’s council chairwoman, I look forward to convening conversations around the business of corporate venturing and the learnings we can share with one another. I want to delve into issues like compensating our teams, engaging our portfolio companies, raising funds from external LPs and managing corporate expectations.
And I anticipate a running dialogue about industry-specific challenges like energy storage, the future of heat, cybersecurity and the “three d’s” of digitisation, decentralisation and decarbonisation. At NGP, we have begun talking about many of these areas within our Next Grid Alliance (NGA), a council of global utilities that now includes 32 companies and counting. I hope to explore synergies in the coming year between NGA members and GCV’s Global Energy Council, because I think there is much we can learn from each other to benefit our customers, shareholders and portfolios.
Wishing you and yours a happy and productive 2021.
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