ABB backs Danish startup to upgrade old power grids

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

ABB is investing in Danish start-up Okto Grid to boost development of technology that will digitalize and extend the useful life of ageing electrical assets.

Okto in Copenhagen has developed a pilot design that digitalizes electrical infrastructure to enable real-time, remote condition and performance monitoring to prolong their working life by another 40 years. Optimizing safety and efficiency of older equipment will enhance reliable and stable power supplies and reduce the equipment’s total carbon emissions.

The technology works independently of transformer type, make, and age of the transformer, is mounted without downtime or any tooling required. As part of the deal ABB will provide their electrification, digitalization and industry knowledge to accelerate development and roll out of the technology.

The company started in 2019 developing an IoT device that captures four different data types non-invasively from electricity-generating or distributing assets, with a primary focus on transformers. The data is then analyzed using Okto’s proprietary algorithms for detecting anomalies and certain events related to the assets’ operation. 

The combination of a physical device, data capture, and analysis methods has given rise to several patent applications for the method and technology. This has led to customers in five European countries using the system in a demonstration phase.

“The world is becoming increasingly electrified which requires an upgrade of our existing electricity infrastructure. Okto Grid is on a mission to digitalize transformers to handle new energy sources and rising energy consumption,” said Golam Sadeghnia, CEO of Okto Grid.

“The competitor situation today consists primarily of larger companies that manufacture transformers and energy generators and have the equipment to collect certain types of data. They are, however, to a certain extent limited to their own products. Smaller companies offer solutions that are limited to certain transformer types and use technologies that require downtime and significant costs,” he said.

In December the company raised $3m from Elewit (Redeia’s corporate VC), Rockstart and EMD Fonden, bringing the total investment to $4m before ABB’s backing.

“Partnering with ABB will be key to accelerating market adoption, given ABB’s global footprint, technology leadership and domain expertise,” said Sadeghnia.

“I am confident that ABB’s investment in Okto Grid, when combined with our technology and in-depth industry insights, will help industry leapfrog the much-needed upgrade to aging electrical grids to meet the demands for higher power performance, reliability and availability,” says Stuart Thompson, Electrification Service Division President, ABB. “This partnership with OKTO GRID exemplifies our approach to collaborating with innovative start-ups who have the shared goal of developing technology that drives smart, safe and sustainable outcomes for our customers.”

The minority investment will be managed through ABB’s venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV);


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