The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): Kristian Bodek, director of corporate venture capital, National Grid Partners

Kristian Bodek works at National Grid Partners (NGP), UK-headquartered energy utility National Grid’s corporate venture capital (CVC) and innovation subsidiary. He is a director in the unit’s growth-stage investing team, where he manages external VC fund investments.

Responsible also for developing investment and partnership strategies tailored to individual business unit’s pain points and priorities, Bodek said: “Over the past three years, I have used our fund investments to access emerging technology and business model companies in our backyard in the US and the UK, and as far away as Israel.

“These relationships have led to demonstrations and commercial agreements with our business units, direct investment opportunities and insights that have informed National Grid’s strategy for the future.”

Bodek, who is passionate about decarbonising the energy system to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, continued: “[National Grid owns] and operate[s] the pipes and wires that help warm and power homes and businesses, but utilities are regulated as natural monopolies. So, historically, we have not had the same incentive to innovate as other companies.

“As the utility industry’s first Silicon Valley-based CVC, we are a conduit to the external innovation ecosystem, helping equip National Grid with the technologies, business models and cultural attributes necessary to lead in the transformation of our industry.”

Among his investments, Bodek feels proudest of his work with utility-focused artificial intelligence (AI) technology developer Urbint, one of NGP’s latest investments. He added: “The company applies AI to urban datasets to help utilities and other infrastructure owners better understand the risks to their asset from external factors, including weather and construction.

“The partnership will enable National Grid to reduce both operating costs, a benefit that flows directly to our customers and methane emissions, by preventing damaging to our gas network from third-party contractors.”

Prior to NGP, Bodek worked in energy research and consulting where he led analyses of environmental policies, including US federal agency Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 attempt to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. While standards and regulations can have a technology-forcing effect, in many cases, they do not keep up with the pace of change and end up serving instead as backstop measures according to Bodek, who said: “That realisation is what motivated me to switch focus to external innovation and CVC.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.