Friday, April 19, 2024

Threading the needle: 5 questions for National Grid Partners’ Lisa Lambert

The Arctic is melting, while hurricanes, blizzards and heat waves leave millions of people and animals in disarray. Lisa Lambert, the head of National Grid’s CVC National Grid Partners, told TechCrunch+ that environmental and social concerns should be top of mind right now for any smart investor.

“Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because there’s an enormous opportunity,” she said. Through her work, she invests in technology focused on climate change and mitigation. Though funding to climate startups dropped slightly in Q1, she sees that as a mere reflection of the overall venture downturn. “By no means do I see the beginning of a concerning trend.”

Instead, she points to the fact that the International Energy Agency estimates that global investment in climate technology needs to hit $4 trillion a year by the end of this decade to meet the promises that government and corporations made of becoming net-zero; that’s four times more than it is right now. She expects the federal Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Green Industrial Plan to infuse billions of dollars into the sector; she estimates that trillions of dollars in private investment capital will be waiting to back scalable climate-focused technology.

Through her work, she leads the charge. Lambert founded National Grid Partners in January 2018, when she and other leaders at the company realized it was best to “disrupt ourselves before we were disrupted.” National Grid is one of the largest utility companies in the world and owns various electric and natural gas networks to power the United Kingdom and the Northeastern United States. Lambert said the company is under a mandate from the British government to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2025.

“Our CEO recognized that getting there would require new investments in technology to achieve the ‘three Ds’: digitalization, decentralization and decarbonization,” she said.

Previously, Lambert was a GP at a clean tech fund and before that spent nearly two decades at Intel Capital, one of the world’s oldest and largest CVCs. She moved from Intel to climate tech because she had a thesis that the sector was due for a “renaissance” following the clean tech bubble collapse in the early 2000s. “And because, as a mother, I can’t think of a more important sector to invest in,” she said.

She has a point: By 2050, which is the target to reach net-zero, the oldest of Generation Z will only be in their early 50s. “As a corporate VC, we’re measured not just on financial return but also on how much operational and strategic value our portfolio provides to our parent company,” Lambert said.

Under her, NGP has allocated $400 million to 40 startups and four specialty funds in which NGP is a limited partner. It’s had seven exits to date, including five unicorns; for those interested in pitching, the fund is currently stage agnostic. At the same time, the firm has focused on opening doors for founders to enter the highly regulated and tough utility market while providing ways to further use technology to innovate a sector with a critical role in climate mitigation.

I caught up with Lambert to ask her five questions about the future of NGP and the importance of her work.

Threading the needle: 5 questions for National Grid Partners’ Lisa Lambert by Dominic-Madori Davis originally published on TechCrunch

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