Smart grid networking startup Silver Spring Networks has landed Japanese industrial conglomerate Hitachi as a partner and potential investor. The two companies announced today they have formed a "strategic alliance" to jointly research and develop new products for the smart grid. As part of the alliance, Hitachi will acquire convertible bonds with stock acquisition right to be issued by Silver Spring.
This agreement is an expansion of an already established relationship. The two companies have been working together since 2011 on the Japan-U.S. collaborative smart grid demonstration project on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Aside from the benefit of partnering with a capital-rich company, the partnership should help Silver Spring diversify beyond its bailiwick of smart meter deployments.
So far, 2012 has been an auspicious year for the startup. Silver Spring has snagged a number of major smart grid deals or partnerships with large companies in recent months. The company finalized last week a massive agreement with utility Commonwealth Edison to deploy its network to nearly 4 million homes and businesses. And late late year, EMC invested $24 million into the company and announced it would work together to develop an analytics solution for utilities.
These deals and the ability to raise venture funding bodes well for Silver Spring in the near term. Its plans to take the company public are less clear. Silver Spring filed an IPO in July 2011, but has yet actually go public. Of course, there are ways -- including being bought out by a major partner like eMeter was last year -- for a startup to exit.
Photo: Flickr user Ian Muttoo, CC 2.0