At the end of the year 2018, eSmart Systems successfully completed a capital raise joined by Equinor Ventures. Equinor’s corporate venture fund is dedicated to investing in attractive and ambitious early phase high-growth companies. As a hands-on investor, Equinor has taken an active role in the ownership of eSmart Systems.

We sat down with Investment Manager at Equinor Ventures, Thor Olav Thorsnes Egeland, to talk about the investment in eSmart Systems, how Equinor Ventures gives growth support and the transitioning of the energy industry. 

Can you start by telling a bit about your company, what it does and what are you focusing on in particular at the moment?

Equinor Ventures is Equinor’s corporate venture fund dedicated to investing in attractive and ambitious early phase and growth companies. We believe that the innovation, creativity and agility of start-ups can drive change and transition the energy industry towards a low carbon future. Equinor Ventures invests in companies that support and enable our current operations, which are future potential growth legs for Equinor, or have high impact technologies and business models that support the energy transition.

Partnered with Equinor Ventures, how do you see eSmart Systems shape the future of energy?

eSmart Systems is already changing how large utilities are working It will continue to support more efficient, precise and cheaper monitoring of the grid. eSmart is delivering the technology of the future for grid inspection.

We are among the few of Equinor’s European portfolio companies from the power industry. Why did you invest in eSmart Systems, and how does it fit with your strategy?

The company’s technical ability paired with a proven entrepreneurial team attracted us. eSmart Systems was early in delivering commercial AI solutions to the power industry and attracted international recognition. This is a great fit with our strategy of investing in companies that could potentially support Equinor’s core business but also in our strategy of investing in companies with high-impact technologies that support the energy transition.

How do you give growth support to your investments, and eSmart Systems in particular?

We are an active investor that typically takes board seats in our portfolio companies. As a hands-on investor we also typically support our companies, like eSmart Systems, in fundraising, recruitment, business development, and M&A.

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