National Grid Partners innovation story

Innovation is embedded in everything we do

How National Grid Partners is bringing an entrepreneurial mindset on board.

Lisa Lambert is Founder and President of National Grid Partners – the innovation and investment arm of our organisation. She’s also National Grid’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer.

Lisa has over 20 years of experience in investing in tech start-ups. Since she joined National Grid three years ago, she’s been introducing that innovative, goal-orientated way of thinking into the company alongside advancing the energy systems of tomorrow.

National Grid Partners Founder and President Lisa Lambert

Here, she explains the five essential and fascinating functions of National Grid Partners.

1. Incubation

We invest in seed stage companies who have a great idea and are just beginning to develop that and go to market. We bring them in-house to our two National Grid Partners offices in Los Gatos and San Francisco, to incubate and accelerate their growth.

2. Innovation

This is a new business creation – like incubation but on the inside. We’re designing these new businesses to grow back into our existing operations and better serve our customers.

3. Corporate venture capital

This is the more traditional venture capital style expansion stage. We help companies that have a product, they have customers and now they’re trying to ramp it up. We’ll invest to grow their revenue and profitability, so they can ultimately get acquired or go public.

4. Business development

This is the function that takes all the good stuff from incubation, innovation and corporate venture capital and helps deliver it back into the National Grid business. So, for example, when we invest in a methane leak detection company, we’ll work with our gas transmission business to make sure that product is fully deployed.

6. Culture acceleration

This is about bringing the entrepreneurial mindset into National Grid. We do that by exposing National Grid colleagues to the start-up eco-system – people who are really smart, ambitious and goal-orientated – and introducing them to our portfolio, thought leaders and even other utility companies that may be doing work we might not be. It’s all about getting insights and learnings, and solving problems differently.

Culture acceleration is all about focusing on these disciplines of innovation, entrepreneurship, lean start-ups and being agile – and exposing that to our business.

We have an Advisory Board program that the Culture Acceleration team organises, where we can put senior leaders on the boards of our start-up portfolio companies, so they get first-hand knowledge and experience of how a start-up works. We try to match people with the sectors they have expertise in, so it's relevant and engaging.

Our Venture Fellows Program is where we bring in people from the operating business to work on assignments within National Grid Partners, on one- to two-year programs. They work across all our functions, so they get first-hand knowledge about how we do what we do. We also offer shorter sprints and immersions, all designed to disrupt from the inside out and make people open to new ways of thinking and doing business.

Find out more about National Grid Partners