Infuse Capital, India’s first sustainable energy and cleantech early-stage venture capital fund, has announced its first investment of around $0.6m into Ecolibrium Energy, an Ahmedabad-based smart-grid and energy management company.
Infuse has been set-up by IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and is currently backed by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), BP, World Bank member IFC and Technology Development Board. Infuse, which also recently announced the initial closing, shall invest in and handhold India-based seed and early-stage cleantech enterprises across renewables, resource efficiency, waste and water.
Ecolibrium has raised a total of $1.6 million in this financing round from Infuse Capital and IFC, who invested through its recently created Cleantech Innovation Facility. The company was founded by brothers Chintan Soni and Harit Soni and was incubated at CIIE in partnership with MNRE through the Renewable Energy Search initiative.
Ecolibrium has developed a technology platform that helps commercial, institutional and industrial organizations produce, monitor and use energy more intelligently, and overall make substantial and rapid cost savings. Ecolibrium has several paying customers and operational pilots across the country – some marquee customers include MNRE, Torrent Power, Fiat and Mitsui. Ecolibrium Energy has made its presence felt within one year of operations by providing very attractive ROI for its customers.
“The current round of funding will be used for strengthening our offerings in the energy optimization, renewable integration, smart micro grids and demand response space. We are delighted to partner with Infuse and IFC for our journey going forward and look forward to their active strategic support”, said Chintan Soni, Founder and CEO, Ecolibrium Energy.
Cleantech is a young and emerging sector in India. Very few funds are actively investing in this space, especially at the critical early-stage. Infuse was created to bridge this financing gap and will invest up to Rs 5-10 crores per venture to support commercialization and scale-up. Infuse also has a unique seed program under which it shall work with entrepreneurs-in-residence to co-create and seed viable capital-efficient ventures across renewables, distributed generation, energy efficiency, transportation, waste management, sustainable agriculture and water sectors.
“We firmly believe that India requires frugal technology and business model innovations to overcome the energy security, access and climate change issues. Start-ups like Ecolibrium, who are building low-cost and commercially viable solutions, are ideal for optimizing the growing energy needs of the industry”, said Prof Rakesh Basant, Chairperson, CIIE. “We think active mentoring and handholding is critical for success of early stage ventures and through Infuse, CIIE will continue to actively work with Ecolibrium in helping them increase their outreach.”
IFC’s co-investment in Ecolibrium is a strong validation of CIIE’s incubation model. Over the last few weeks, several of CIIE supported ventures across sectors have received external funding and validation. CIIE incubatees iStar and Biosense recently raised funds from Unitus and Insitor respectively while Barrix Agro, a winner at Power of Ideas initiative, won the best social start-up award at the recently held Sankalp Forum. In the IT sector, Ventureast recently funded CIIE-supported Smartrx while Tookitaki raised commitment at Nasscom’s 10,000 start-ups initiative.