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3M bolsters energy sector presence with SEI investment



August 26, 2014 – 3M New Ventures—the corporate venture arm of 3M—announced an equity stake in Toronto-based Smart Energy Instruments (SEI), a move that will “accelerate SEI’s efforts in developing electronic chipsets with high-precision, real-time monitoring capabilities for smart grids, as well as give 3M a bigger presence in the energy sector”.

“We’ve hit several key milestones in our company’s growth, and the utility market is now primed to take full advantage of our smart grid technologies,” said SEI CEO Jeff Dionne. “We see 3M as an important strategic partner to jointly develop and commercialize innovative solutions for utilities and electrical equipment manufacturers.”

The investment from 3M New Ventures comes as several existing stakeholders also bolstered their equity in SEI, reports 3M. Together, the 3M New Ventures-led financing round totalled $5 million US. Other details of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are impressed with SEI’s forward-thinking approach to the utility marketplace,” said Robert Visser, vice-president of R&D of 3M’s Electronics and Energy Business Group. “We now have the opportunity to support a new standard for multi-dimensional electrical measurements in the utility industry.”

SEI’s technology platform is based on a core set of chips with “unprecedented measurement precision and low-power consumption” that can be integrated into today’s intelligent electronic devices. 3M says this gives equipment manufacturers and utilities a “huge competitive edge” in functions such as grid load monitoring, fault detection and isolation.

“SEI’s unique technology will strengthen 3M’s leadership in the energy sector and enable the development of ubiquitous infrastructure sensing and monitoring solutions,” added Stefan Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures.