France-based energy utility EDF has cornerstoned the launch of the Electranova Capital corporate venturing fund to be managed by local private equity firm Idinvest Partners. The €60m ($85m) investment fund will back energy start-ups specialising in environmentally-friendly technologies, such as potentially smart grids, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and energy storage. EDF is providing half the fund’s committed capital, while Germany-based insurer Allianz, which has backed others of Idinvest’s funds, is committing €10m. Idinvest said it was targeting €100m for the fund in total. EDF had formerly launched Easenergy as its corporate venturing unit in 2000 – run by Matt Lecar who is now at industrial conglomerate General Electric – that took equity stakes in start-ups in return for providing people to help the portfolio companies rather than cash. EDF said Electranova’s deals would also use its 2,000-strong research and development (R&D) team. Bernard Salha, EDF’s R&D director, said: “EDF R&D is already very involved in projects focusing on the development of renewable energies, storage, smart grids, electric vehicles and energy efficiency. With Electronova Capital, it is keen to consolidate its commitment to innovation and contribute to an industrial impetus in technology that respects the environment.”

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