“We are investing all the way through the energy space from smart phone to grids to charging infrastructure for electrical vehicles.”

So says Susana Quintana-Plaza of Siemens’ Silicon valley-located innovation unit next47.

next47 was set up to foster disruptive ideas more vigorously and drive innovations and its activities focus on five fields of innovation: artificial intelligence, autonomous machines, distributed electrification, connected mobility and blockchain applications. The number 47 refers to the year Siemens was founded – 1847.

Plaza explains: “next47 is above all a venture capital activity of Siemens. We have €1bn to invest over the next five years in start-ups around the world. We are looking for who we think are the category leading start-ups in the decentralized energy space and looking to invest in them. At the same time our value add is not only to invest in them but to bring them internally to Siemens or to Siemens customers in order to help them scale and grow. Our job is to really focus on who we think are the differentiative new companies in this market.

She highlights some of the companies that next47 is working with: “For example, Tado, the smart thermostat company in Europe, or Atom Power, the solid-state circuit breaker company set to completely change how circuit breakers work today. Also, ChargePoint, which is setting up charging infrastructure all over the world.

“We are also committed to a spin out called APOGEE, which is a winning team spun off from Siemens. They have worked together to build a platform which is an energy-efficient building automation system that facilitates business on top of electric charging.

This business-on-top could be management of the grid or other various business models, so we are doing quite a few things all along the energy value chain. From the home to the grid to areas like monitoring conditioning systems for wind turbines, smart grid and Internet of Things technologies to manage the grid – there’s quite a lot across the spectrum.”

She says she is seeing “a lot of very exciting stuff coming up – IOT innovations that are making the grid smarter and artificial intelligence to increase understanding of supply and demand”.

However, she says “the goal for decentralized generation is to create an industrial supply chain that can serve the end consumer. Today the whole decentralized system is not very sophisticated and that’s the innovation I would look for.”

This article is an extract from a longer exclusive interview that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe now to be sure of receiving your issue.

Decentralized energy, artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and blockchain are all key strands of the conference programme at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. For more details click here.