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North Bridge and General Catalyst back Gridco Systems, new start-up developing power management tech for utilities

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 26, 2011 09:19 AM

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Two Boston-area venture capital firms are bankrolling a Sycamore Networks veteran, Naimish Patel, in a new start-up that aims to deliver smarter power management technology to utilities and major industrial power consumers. The start-up, Gridco Systems, doesn't yet have a Web site, and has been operating out of the offices of its investors, General Catalyst in Cambridge and North Bridge Venture Partners in Waltham.

While Patel isn't saying much, the company seems to be focusing on solid-state (as opposed to magnetic) transformers, which can be smaller, more efficient, and easier to monitor and manage. At a conference in San Francisco earlier this month, Patel also observed that as the prices of commodities like iron, copper, and steel climb, so do the prices of traditional magnetic transformers.

Neither Patel nor his investors would reveal how much the company has raised. But Gridco is one of the first investments that North Bridge partner Ric Fulop has made since joining the firm last year; Fulop was one of the founders of battery-maker A123 Systems.

Declining an interview, Patel wrote in an e-mail, "As you might imagine, things are extremely hectic here at Gridco, as we're heads-down on completing a variety of activities."

Here's a good overview of some of the other companies developing solid-state transformers for the electrical grid.

Before starting Gridco, Patel was an entrepreneur-in-residence at General Catalyst for several years. He spent more than a decade at Sycamore, the Chelmsford networking equipment maker, mainly in the role of chief technology officer.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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