The rest of the 50 (in alphabetical order): Avra Durack, director of incubation, National Grid Partners
Avra Durack is director of incubation at National Grid Partners (NGP), UK-headquartered energy utility National Grid’s corporate venture capital (CVC) unit, having joined the unit in April 2018, seven months before its official launch.
NGP has offices in the US and the UK and functions as National Grid’s investment and innovation arm, blending CVC with innovation and business development pursuits. The vehicle focuses on developers of energy transformation, renewable energy and energy distribution technologies.
Durack had come from personalised education provider AltSchool, where she spent more than two years from 2016 first as head of business development before ascending to director of growth.
Before AltSchool, Durack oversaw business development and strategic partnerships at artificial intelligence and battery storage firm Stem. She has dealt with environmental issues throughout her professional life, such as focusing on renewable energy at solar company One Block Off the Grid, developing affordable housing in New York City and rebuilding post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
Durack said: “During my time working at energy startups, I experienced first-hand the complexity and challenges of scaling renewable energy and modernising our antiqued energy infrastructure. I came to realise that there are numerous companies, experiencing similar challenges to create clear growth paths towards a more renewable, sustainable future.
“I was attracted to join [NGP] because it is a unique opportunity to create an environment where innovation has the funding and support to scale. It is a chance to fundamentally change our energy grid from the inside of the company, leveraging both the commitment of a big organisation to embrace change and the collaboration with cutting-edge businesses that can be true catalysts for a different kind of energy future.
“I was also attracted to the opportunity to be an investor and have the privilege of coming to work to learn. I was excited to engage with smart people both at National Grid and at startups to better understand the problems we face around climate change and the opportunities for impact.”
In 2019, NGP’s early-stage investment group made three investments: solar power installer Carbon Lighthouse, energy resources marketplace operator Leap and solar energy servicing company Omnidian.
Durack holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Stanford University and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.