26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Grant Allen, ABB Technology Ventures

Grant Allen became head of ventures at Switzerland-based industrial giant ABB at the beginning of 2017 upon ABB Technology Ventures (ATV)’s former president Girish Nadkarni’s departure – who is on the Powerlist for his new unit at France-based oil major Total.

Before his promotion, Allen had been with ABB for more than seven years, and over a decade as a venture investor. At ABB, he has led more than a dozen investments, including the exits of Netherlands-based electric vehicles power supplies provider Epyon in 2011, US-based cybersecurity provider Industrial Defender in March 2014, US-based vacuum robotics technology provider Persimmon Technologies in May 2017 and US-based machine learning technology developer Bonsai in June 2018, all positive returns for ATV.

About four startups were acquired by ABB’s robotics business unit in the past two years, he added, including US-based direct current-powered datacentres and telecoms facilities infrastructure provider Validus DC in 2011.

He added: “76% of our 21 active portfolio companies have strategic engagements with their sponsoring business units – if not more broadly across ABB. Three companies are [in March 2019] working on deep product integration.”

In 2018, the unit participated in five new deals and six follow-on investments, including Sweden-based materials technology producer Graphmatech, Canada-based mining data platform creator MineSense, India-based end-to-end dairy technology developer Stellapps and US-based industrial analytics software developer Element Analytics.

ATV has produced many stellar members featured on GCV’s Rising Stars roster and the Powerlist. Allen himself has been on the latter three times since 2017 after being chosen as a Rising Star in 2016. He nominated Kurt Kaltenegger in 2017 and Malin Carlstrom in 2019 for the Rising Stars awards and both were selected. He said: “We are expanding our team this year with three new hires – a senior investor in Israel, one new head in India and one in Zurich or Bay Area.”

Before ABB, Allen was a vice-president with Core Capital Partners, a $400m enterprise software-focused venture firm in Washington DC, capital of the US. Among other roles, he had stints at Microsoft in its mobile and embedded devices division, working for the chief executive of Jingle Networks – later sold for $63m – and at several startups, including a web services company focused on the mortgage industry he founded when was 19 years old.

Allen has an MBA from Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and a BSE from Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. He was appointed to US trade body the National Venture Capital Association’s corporate venturing advisory group. Outside ABB, he is an angel investor, with positions in more than two dozen companies, including Uber, Avizia, Catawiki, EquityZen, Munchery, AltspaceVR, Earnest and Kanler. Previous investments include LivingSocial, Alibaba and Visually. Allen is on the boards of Soft Robotics, which this month closed a $20m round, Trilliant, Grabit and Atom Power.

Being a thought-leader in the CVC industry, he is a member of GCV’s Leadership Society and a strategic adviser to three VC funds including Forte Ventures, and a speaker at about 10 to 15 conferences per year.