Update: German energy company E.ON unifies its portfolio under new Future Energy Ventures unit

UPDATE: This story has been updated to indicate that there is no disclosed investment figure for the Future Energy Ventures ongoing investment activity. E.ON and its subsidiaries have invested in 60 companies to date with a combined asset value of EUR250 million.

The German energy company E.ON, which counts over 50 million commercial, residential and industrial customers, has merged the portfolio companies of its two investment vehicles under a new venture arm called Future Energy Ventures, the company said.

As utilities move to decarbonize their sources of energy generation they’re coming to the realization that they will need exposure to a range of technology companies that can orchestrate, integrate and manage power that’s coming from increasingly distributed sources. It’s a shift away from a century’s worth of energy infrastructure that relied on large coal and natural gas plants for generating the electricity that powered homes and businesses. And it’s a change that requires exposure to a range of new technologies being developed by early-stage companies, according to E.ON executives.

At E.ON, the venture investment arm formed from the merger of previous portfolios of E.ON and its innogy assets will be led by Ines Bergmann-Nolting and Jan Lozek, two longtime company executives who have been investing off the company’s balance sheet into early-stage businesses already. In fact, the fund launches with 60 companies in its portfolio.

The company sees a breakdown between the networks that startups need and the traditional model of venture capital, Lozek said. Large industrial partners like E.ON can provide not just investment, but access to a whole range of commercial and industrial customers and the regulators whose support startups need to bring new technologies to market.