How Strategic Partnerships Can Foster Clean Energy Innovation

Last month, NECEC’s Cleantech Navigate Northeast program hosted a five-part webinar series on Investor and Corporate Partner Readiness. In the first installment of the series, “How Strategic Partnerships Can Foster Clean Energy Innovation,” PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Director Alexander Payne explored strategies for how  established corporations and early-stage companies can partner to develop new technologies in a mature market. The webinar also featured Schneider Electric Senior Vice President Barry Coflan and KGS Building Partner and Co-Founder Nick Gayeski, who discussed how the two companies formed a meaningful  strategic partnership.

According to Payne, PwC research suggests that 96 percent of CEOs believe innovation will be the key to long-term growth and success, while only 28 percent believe their company’s innovation capabilities are where they need to be. To fill this obvious gap, more corporates should consider engaging in strategic partnerships, which are a useful and valuable vehicle for innovation for large corporations. Some examples of potential value include savings on research or product development spending, the ability to offer new products in an existing market, access to new markets, and the opportunity to license. Ultimately, strategic partnerships allow corporates to tap the innovative ideas and capabilities of the startups they are partnering with.

One example of a successful strategic partnership is that of the NECEC Strategic Partner Network member Schneider Electric and the cleantech startup KGS Buildings, a market leader in automated diagnostics and building performance management software.

In 2012, the two companies signed an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreement as part of a strategic partnership. The agreement sparked revenue and growth for the bootstrapped startup, while allowing Schneider Electric a foothold in an emerging technology area. In 2015, following the success of the strategic partnership, Schneider purchased a minority stake in KGS. The case-study is an example of how a strategic partnership can provide mutual benefits and allow a corporate to engage in innovation where they might otherwise have not been able to.

To view recordings of all the webinars in the series, check out our playlist here.

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Catarina Madeira

Catarina is the Director of Cleantech Navigate Northeast.