July 16, 2024
European startups are making batteries both punchy — and portable

When engineers working for the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) have some welding to do out on a section of track, they don’t have to fire up a diesel generator anymore. They can plug their tools into a portable battery instead. A silent, emissions-free battery that can also power lights and measuring instruments. 

The SBB now has around 80 batteries made by Instagrid, a fast-growing startup headquartered in Germany. Welding requires a significant burst of energy so the batteries have to come with a kick. 

“That is what we are specifically good at, the power density,” asserts Andreas Sedlmayr, co-founder and CEO of the firm, which employs 150 people and has raised $145 million to date. The name of the company is short for “instant grid” — which is what it’s meant to feel like, says Sedlmayr. As though you’ve brought access to the electricity grid with you, in a box.

Finding the power bank sweet spot

Batteries are increasingly indispensable as homes and industries electrify in the transition away from fossil fuels. But batteries tend to be either small and weak or powerful and ginormous. A handful of startups want to change that and find the sweet spot in the middle — power banks, they say, can be both punchy and portable. 

In January, Instagrid announced a Series C funding round totalling $95 million, and plans to expand into the North American market. “We’re doubling every year — that’s basically what we need to keep this growth,” comments Sedlmayr of the investment, which he says will help Instagrid “go global.”

The Instagrid LINK in use by construction worker