Schneider Electric chief strategy officer Emmanuel Lagarrigue: We have devised an individually adapted program for each of the companies.
Energy and automation giant Schneider Electric will invest in 12 startups in Israel at the seed and feasibility stages. Schneider Electric’s initial investment is estimated at $25 million. Sources inform “Globes” that Schneider Electric chief strategy officer Emmanuel Lagarrigue and corporate ventures and external innovation officer Heriberto Diarte recently visited Israel.
During their four-day stay, the executives visited the innovation center established by Italian energy company Enel and Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN); “The Bridge,” a joint startup program of Coca Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and Turner Media Group; and cooperative technology venture Impact Labs. They also met with Grove Ventures managing partner Dov Moran, Jerusalem Venture Partners founder and chairperson Erel Margalit, and Start-Up Nation Central CEO Prof. Eugene Kandel. The Schneider Electric executives examined 25 Israel startups in cyber security, renewable energy, and other sectors during their visit.
Talking from Paris, Lagarrigue said that the company would work in collaboration with the 12 companies that had been selected, and that it would connect them with its major customers and with its R&D centers around the world. “We have devised an individually adapted program for each one of the companies, because each one has a different technology in a different sector and they are at different development stages. It won’t be the same strategy with all of them, so a separate investment strategy is being devised for each company.” He added that Schneider Electric would invest about $2 million in companies at the seed stage and larger amounts in companies at more mature stages. Lagarrigue refrained from saying which companies had been selected. Schneider Electric’s main areas of interest are Internet of Things (IoT) in various areas, advanced energy technologies, and technologies for a digital transition to 4.0 industry. “We have over 20 innovation centers worldwide, with the strongest ones being in the US, China, and France, but we’re seeing more and more ecosystem centers in the world, such as Silicon Valley, Shenzhen in China, and Israel,” Lagarrigue says.
Schneider Electric said that possible investments in startups directly or through Israeli venture capital funds were considered during the visit, as well as the possibility of establishing a Schneider Electric innovation center in Israel. Lagarrigue himself sounds hesitant on the matter: “I wouldn’t rule out such a possibility in the long term, but to speak honestly, there’s a better way today for a company like ours to help Israeli entrepreneurs and work with Israeli companies.”
Lagarrigue says that in Israel, as in Silicon Valley, companies like Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are investing substantial amounts of money in their R&D, resulting in intense competition to attract talent. “It could be that a company like ours won’t be the best alternative for such talent,” Lagarrigue says, “but we are likely to be the best alternative for entrepreneurs who want to solve challenging problems and are looking for a platform on which to sell and try out their technology. Cooperation like this is therefore more significant that establishing an R&D center – it means investing in Israeli businesses, being present in Israeli industry, and connecting Israeli entrepreneurs and innovation with our businesses.”
Schneider Electric recently invested in industrial cyber company Claroty through the Aster Capital fund, and previously invested in clean-tech companies Atlantium Technologies and Nova Lumos. Lagarrigue says that the investment in Claroty was a good example of his company’s investment model: “We work well with them. They have unique technology and we help them up-scale and we offer access to our customers around the world. More than the investment, it’s important for us to see the company grow, and this is an example of what a company like us can contribute here.”
“Globes”: What insights did you gain from the visit to Israel?
Lagarrigue: “What was amazing for me to discover is that the Israeli ecosystem is more lively and active than ever. We knew that this was a strong ecosystem, but it has become far stronger thanks to specialization in fields like cybersecurity, in which Israelis are stronger than any other ecosystem, and to what’s happening in the automotive industry and the fact that the price of tomorrow’s car will be based on software and this software will come from Israel. All of these things show the great strength of the Israeli ecosystem and are making it more relevant than before. Israeli innovation complements what is being done in Silicon Valley, which is in first place, and maybe also Shenzhen.”
Lagarrigue emphasizes Israel’s uniqueness in adapting solutions to problems: “One of the special things about the Israeli ecosystem is that there are entrepreneurs willing to solve tough problems that we’re dealing with. This is very special and we like it very much. You find many Israeli entrepreneurs who tell us, ‘Give us a problem and we’ll solve it for you.’ This is an excellent starting point for cooperation.”
Schneider Electric’s revenue totaled €24 billion in 2017. The company is based in France and operates in over 100 countries and has 150,000 employees. Schneider Electric Israel, founded in 1999, is led by country manager Philippe Brami. Schneider Electric’s annual global research and development budget is over €1 billion; the company also invests in innovation through Aster Capital, which manages €520 million. Aster Capital’s head in Israel is Adi Yefet.
About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems.We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest Partner, Integrator and Developer Community on our Open Platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to Innovation, Diversity and Sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.