The certification body Underwriters Laboratories is among a group of investors putting $6.6 million into a little-known battery performance testing startup called Voltaiq. In a press release, Voltaiq said UL would be making the investment through its UL Ventures arm.
Others in the oversubscribed Series A funding round, which was led by tech investment house Anzu Partners, included Durham, North Carolina-based SJF Ventures and Bee Partners of San Francisco.
Bee Partners was a return investor, having pumped $1.6 million into a $2 million seed funding round in 2016. Previously, the startup, which launched in 2012 as Subway Labs, had secured financing from a number of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program grants.
These included a $150,000 Department of Energy Phase I SBIR package in 2013, a further $150,000 from the National Science Foundation in 2014 and another $1 million from the DOE that same year.
Voltaiq, which has offices in Brooklyn, Berkeley and Munich, Germany, describes itself as “the industry leader in advanced battery analytics solutions for the grid storage, electric vehicle and consumer electronics market segments.”
The company was set up by two former engineers from a DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy-funded project at the City University of New York Energy Institute.
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The engineers, CEO Tal Sholklapper and Chief Product Officer Eli Leland, developed an early version of the Voltaiq platform to assist with their work at the CUNY Energy Institute.
A third co-founder, CTO Ethan Leland, was formerly a product engineer at VMware, a technology firm specializing in cloud computing systems.
At Voltaiq, the team created a chemistry-agnostic, cloud-based battery data analytics system for an unlimited number of users per organization.
The system can run in any commercial cloud environment and payment is via subscription, with pricing based on the number of battery systems feeding data into the system at any point in time.
One of the main benefits of the platform is that it gives development teams an easy way of comparing historic and current data. This work has traditionally been done manually, a process that can take days or even weeks.
One Voltaiq customer has been able to use the platform to cut that time down to just a couple of hours, sources said. The Voltaiq platform also makes it easy for global teams to share and compare data.
Finally, GTM hears that investors were attracted to the level of analytics that Voltaiq could deliver compared to traditional battery company number-crunching approaches, which often rely on in-house programs or even spreadsheets.
As a result, companies adopting the Voltaiq analytics system could benefit from faster development cycles and higher-quality products, sources close to the company said.
"Our software enables companies to rapidly perform the complex analytics needed to help ensure the most robust battery systems possible," said Sholklapper in a press release.
“We enhance engineering productivity while helping to deliver stability, performance and safety in battery systems."
Voltaiq has not disclosed how many clients it works for, but companies listed on its website include an early-stage battery materials company called Blue Current and the testing firm Arbin Instruments.
The company also mentions winning its first battery customer in 2012, followed by a university energy institute in 2014 and an ultracapacitor maker in 2015.
Since 2016, Voltaiq claims to have been working with major battery original equipment manufacturers and consumer electronics brands. The company’s customer base is split more or less evenly between the transportation, consumer electronics and energy storage sectors.
The money from the latest funding round will be used to support Voltaiq’s growth in international markets, including further development of the software platform and the hiring of new people.
Last November, Voltaiq recruited former A123 Systems VP of Global Sales Evan Sanders to develop the company’s U.S. and international client portfolio.
“Customer interest in Voltaiq’s cloud-based suite of battery intelligence products has grown dramatically,” said Voltaiq at the time.
As interest in bringing new battery products to market continues unabated, it is clear investors see potential in the business, too. “We are excited about the growth prospects,” Greg Pope, a principal at Anzu Partners, told GTM.