FRANKFURT Innogy (IGY.DE) has signed a deal with Israeli company OurCrowd that will give the German utility access to the crowdfunding firm's pipeline of start-ups in return for providing access to its customer base, Innogy CEO Peter Terium said on Tuesday.
Terium said his company would spend "several million euros" from a 130 million euros ($137.79 million) venture fund to exchange knowledge and product roll-out opportunities in the energy market and beyond.
"OurCrowd gives us access to their pipeline of start ups.
We have the option to participate in that," Terium said in a telephone call with Reuters.
OurCrowd has raised $400 million for 110 companies in Israel and worldwide. Innogy, whose businesses include renewables and power networks, is part of RWE (RWEG.DE).
Terium said Innogy would look at applications such as "smart" homes and cities, including electric vehicle and other transport systems, data management and security offered by OurCrowd participants.
The deal would also allow start-ups under the OurCrowd umbrella to have a chance to test applications in and among Innogy's 23 million customers.
"If this business works, we can take it to the next level and make money to reinvest," Terium said.
Israel's hi-tech industry around Tel Aviv has hundreds of firms. "You find here an eco-system that is very comparable to Silicon Valley," Terium said. He said Innogy already had co-operation agreements in place with seven local startups.
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(Reporting by Vera Eckert and Tom Kaeckenhoff, editing by Jane Merriman)