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Norway-based eSmart Systems, a six-year-old company delivering intelligent monitoring and remediation systems to energy markets, today announced that it has raised $34 million in funding. The round included contributions from Energy Impact Partners (EIP), Innogy Ventures, Equinor Energy Ventures, Nysnø Climate Investments, and Kongsberg Digital and brings the company’s total raised to over $40 million.
“We are proud to announce EIP and Innogy Ventures as eSmart Systems’ new growth partners and shareholders,” said CEO and founder Knut Johansen. “This partnership has great potential for the energy industry, and we see this as an excellent platform for propelling eSmart Systems into its next phase of international expansion.”
eSmart was spun out of the IFE Institute for Energy Technology in 2012 by the team behind the Nordic Power Exchange to electrical energy market operator Nord Pool AS. eSmart’s workforce has grown considerably in recent years, from a small core team of engineers to almost 80 employees across offices in Norway, Denmark, the U.K., and the U.S., who together facilitate electricity operations in seven countries.
The company’s Connected Drone product leverages computer vision to visually inspect assets, with the aim of lowering maintenance costs and reducing failure rates. It funnels data about towers, poles, and other components of large-scale electrical systems to web, desktop, and mobile apps, all while performing analytics on that data to help suss out potential problems, like rusted powerlines.
Meanwhile, the company’s cloud-hosted Connected Grid collates internal and external data — including data from line of business systems, sensors, markets, and building automation systems — that informs visualizations and predictive tools in a top system. And its Connected Prosumer tool highlights the ways energy consumption, production, and storage might be optimized. eSmart pegs the average customer’s energy cost savings at 10-30%.
“eSmart Systems can help utilities ensure and maintain the reliability, safety, and resiliency of the electric grid,” said Energy Impact Partners’ Michael Donnelly. “EIP is thrilled to have eSmart as a portfolio company and co-invest alongside such strong partners. eSmart’s intelligent analytics solution for energy and utility companies has immediate use cases for our investor base. It helps utilities efficiently and effectively analyze existing and expanding data sources (including images and sensors), providing actionable insights for transmission and distribution systems.”
Equipment inspections aided by computer vision is something of a growing trend. Drone solutions company Percepto raised $15 million in May for its “drone-in-a-box” solution that supports maintenance activities at energy, oil and gas, and mining sites. Intel and Cyberhawk teamed up two years ago to inspect a Scottish gas terminal with quadcopters. And utilities such as Dominion Virginia Power have employed drones to check up on power lines; FedEx plans to develop a drone-powered aircraft inspection program in Tennessee; and researchers have proposed using drone imagery to detect potholes, cracks, and other road damage and to spot potentially damaging ice on wind turbines.
Perhaps it’s no wonder that the global predictive maintenance market is anticipated to grow from $3 billion in 2019 to $10.7 billion by 2024, according to analysts at Markets and Markets.
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