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IONATE raises £3.3 million Seed Round led by IQ Capital

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

IONATE closed its Seed financing round of £3.3 million, led by IQ Capital. The funding will enable the company to deliver its game-changing control technology to real-world power systems.

London, 16.08.2022, Deep-tech energy innovator IONATE is proud to announce today the closing of its £3.3 million Seed financing round. The round was led by deep-tech investor IQ Capital, with the participation of Smartworks, the investment arm of leading Austrian energy supplier Wien Group, cleantech impact VC Cycle Group, deep-tech climate investor Zero Carbon Capital, and the University of Edinburgh’s venture fund, Old College Capital.

IONATE will use the funds to scale operations and deliver its pioneering hardware-software power flow control solution to electricity distribution grids, renewables generation- and energy storage assets alike. IONATE is currently working with its UK-based manufacturing partner to finalise the full-scale version of its proprietary hardware, the Hybrid Intelligent Transformer (HIT). HIT devices will be deployed in parallel proof-of-concept trials across multiple geographies, scheduled to begin next year.

The need for IONATE’s control technology is urgent. The energy transition is driving enormous growth in electrification, renewable generation, and electric vehicle charging, resulting in complex, variable power flows. Traditional passive power infrastructure cannot deal with the ensuing power quality issues, which ultimately limits our ability to achieve decarbonization goals and rapidly drives up the costs of keeping the lights on. Add-ons that could resolve control issues are too expensive and fragile for widespread adoption.

IONATE provides a radically novel, transformative solution, unlocking a robust technology path to Net Zero. Its patented technology resolves key power quality issues associated with decarbonisation. At the same time, it boosts reliability and productivity of connected assets, including renewable generators, and battery storage, as well as the distribution grid itself, enabling the low-carbon energy transition on multiple fronts. Indeed, the UK Energy Innovation Centre recently recognised IONATE with the 2022 Future Energy System Award, for having "the greatest potential for future impact towards the energy systems transition" while expert industry and utility judges characterised IONATE’s technology as “ground-breaking innovation”.

IONATE’s CEO Matthew Williams said: “Working through a pandemic, scaling what was just an idea to fully functioning devices in less than three years, shows not only our team’s skill and dedication but the conviction of our network that IONATE is a key technology for the energy transition. With visionary experts from deep-tech venture capital, the utility sector, and academia in this round, we could not have chosen more strategic partners for achieving IONATE’s huge potential. I’m very excited for the next chapter and to work side-by-side with our investors and partners on what promises to be a time of extraordinary growth.
Max Bautin, Managing Partner at IQ Capital Partners, added: “IONATE has made a fundamental breakthrough in digitising power transformers that will completely change how energy is distributed and used. Transformers are everywhere, but this is the first revolution in their design and operation for the last 100 years. IONATE’s device and software platform offers industry and grid-operators a drop-in replacement to existing transformers that offers precise control of power flows at any scale. The possibilities are endless with huge benefits to a wide range of use-cases: from energy storage and increased renewable generation, to increased efficiency in electrical vehicle charging and operation, as well as more efficient factories, and distributed energy networks that are cheaper and more robust. We’re delighted to be backing the very talented IONATE founder team, helping to grow their customer base and bringing this pioneering technology to market.”
Investment Director Klaus Fuchs from Smartworks – CVC Investment company of Wiener Stadtwerke & Wien Energie said: "We have found a gamechanger. The challenges of our time demand new, courageous and intelligent solutions with vision. IONATE has developed one that can sustainably solve several problems of decarbonisation of energy systems and electrification of mobility at once. And it does so everywhere and worldwide. The great interest shown by grid operators, transformer manufacturers and OEMs of generation plants confirms us in this view. We are looking forward to becoming part of an exciting journey and working with the founders and co-investors."

Zero Carbon Capital’s Director Pippa Gawley said: “We're so excited to continue working with IONATE and to have witnessed their progress first-hand over the last couple of years. Matthew and Rob are brilliant, dedicated founders that are building a key enabling technology for the decarbonised grid of the future. Across the world, net zero targets will require vast new deployments of renewable energy and a radical rethink to the way that electricity grids are managed. IONATE are in the perfect position to both enable and scale with that challenge.

Andrea Young, Head of Investment at Old College Capital said; We are delighted to join this seed round alongside a specialist syndicate of investors led by IQ Capital. Matthew and the team at IONATE have developed an elegant technology solution, able to help power grids manage major challenges associated with the energy transition. The University of Edinburgh has been working collaboratively with IONATE since 2020. The partnership has seen researchers in our school of engineering help build the initial prototype and will now see them support the company deliver full scale devices. We are excited to join the company on its next stage of growth as it takes its technology out of the lab and deploys it at industrial scale.

More about IONATE

IONATE works to transform power systems through deep-tech innovation. Its patented hardware, the Hybrid Intelligent Transformer replaces traditional passive transformers and provides control functionalities sought by DSOs, renewable and battery storage operators at a reliability and price point not previously achievable. One device alone brings real-time data, dynamic voltage control, power factor correction, and harmonics removal. But a network of Hybrid Intelligent Transformers, coordinated by IONATE’s AI platform, unlocks true systemic responsiveness as the energy system transitions.

The company’s R&D activities to date have been funded by pre-Seed investment from Zero Carbon Capital and individual investors, as well as grant funding from Scottish Enterprise, Eureka and Innovate UK. It delivered the benchtop prototype of the Hybrid Intelligent Transformer in 2021, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to winning the EIC’s Future Energy System Award, IONATE’s recent achievements include winning selection to competitive global scale-up programmes Free Electrons, EDP Energy Starter, and EnergyLab. A primary focus of these programs is creating close partnerships with utilities for technology trials. The company also won selection to ORE Catapult’s Launch Academy programme to apply its technology to the offshore wind sector.

About IQ Capital

IQ Capital is the leading deeptech venture capital firm. Based in London and Cambridge, IQ Capital invests in early-stage deeptech businesses using hard-to-replicate technology in massive global markets – across sectors including software, hardware, materials, health tech and life sciences.

IQ Capital’s 50+ portfolio companies are visionaries and address some of the largest problems in the world to dominate their respective markets on a global scale and grow rapidly to become sector leaders.

About Smartworks

Smartworks Innovation is a sustainably-thinking strategic corporate Investment company. Owned by Wiener Stadtwerke Group & Wien Energie, we can leverage all the advantages of a leading Austrian energy & public infrastructure service supplier to maximize the success of our partnerships. We combine the outstanding expertise and financial strength of a leading energy & infrastructure powerhouse with the dynamics of an independent startup investor.

The establishment of Smartworks Innovation will allow us to acquire direct investments in strategically promising startups in the future. For this, global technology developments outside of the core business will be harnessed for use in the domestic market and strategic white spaces will be developed. The aim is to participate in relevant market and technology developments through an investment and to be able to shape the future of our own industry through early identification of disruptive technologies.

About Cycle Group

About Zero Carbon Capital

Zero Carbon Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm backing European companies building innovative, scientific solutions to the biggest, hardest challenges of decarbonisation. They make pre-seed and seed investments across sectors, from agriculture to industrial processes, from energy to carbon dioxide removal. ZCC works with companies that have the potential to build big businesses and to remove at least 500Mt of CO2 emissions per year at scale.

About Old College Capital

Old College Capital is the University of Edinburgh’s in-house venture investment fund. It aims to support the University’s research, staff and students by investing in high-growth, early-stage businesses associated with the University.


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