Microsol set to capitalise on US$100bn grid upgrade

8 Oct 2003

Dublin-based utility management software firm Microsol, which has subsidiaries in Dubai, the UK and Australia, is opening a new office in the US as part of a strategic plan to capitalise on the projected €115bn (US$100bn) investment needed to upgrade the US power grid following the recent blackouts.

In February this year Microsol acquired the assets and premises of Connecticut-based Automation Technologies and Services (ATS), which also has operations in Idaho and Colorado, and plans to establish a network of regional sales offices throughout the Americas. It is understood that the transaction involved an overall capital investment of €2m.

Last month, Microsol opened an office in Dubai to capitalise on opportunities in the Middle Eastern power markets.

Microsol’s CEO Denis O’Connor told siliconrepublic.com that the company is currently in the process of raising up to €4m in venture capital. The company expects the funding to be provided by existing shareholders, including ICC Venture Capital, Anglo Irish Bank, Enterprise Irelnd and Cairn Holdings. It is expected that new institutional investors will also invest to help broaden the shareholder base.

Microsol has invested heavily in R&D over the past few years from its premises in Dublin’s Pearse St, committing more than €1m per annum to product research and development. O’Connor said that the company will increase its R&D spend as sales grow. “Our job is to capitalise on the amount of inquiries and business we are getting for our products, which are unique to the power transmission and distribution industries,” he said.

“Our forecasts for the future are very aggressive. We are projecting a doubling of turnover in the next year from €7.5m to €15m. This rapid expansion means that we may need a further round of funding, possibly as early as next year,” O’Connor added.

Describing the opportunity that exists in the US for firms like Microsol, O’Connor told siliconrepublic.com: “There’s been an under-investment in the US power grid and as a result of deregulation there has been no clear basis for investing in the power grid. The US authorities believe in the need to re-regulate the market to facilitate higher-level investment. The problem so far is that investment in the grid has been piecemeal, run by smaller companies and local monopolies. The plan is to transfer this into larger regional operations that will be re-regulated to facilitate a recovery of investment. The estimates so far are that it will cost US$100bn just to put in a smart grid.”

By John Kennedy