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31 March, 2021 - 11:27 By Tony Quested

From a flat to a penthouse: SMAP Energy acquired by Tokyo power player

Started in a flat, Cambridge University spin-out SMAP Energy, has landed in the penthouse suite of global business. It is being acquired by ENECHANGE in a play that will see it become a subsidiary of the Tokyo energy switching giant.

SMAP and ENECHANGE began their story as Cambridge Energy Data Lab, a privately sponsored research lab working alongside the University of Cambridge to develop solutions to emerging challenges in the global energy sector. These challenges revolved around the “4Ds of energy”: deregulation, digitalisation, decentralisation, and decarbonisation.

Identifying an opportunity for price comparison websites in the wake of energy market liberalisation in Japan, ENECHANGE was founded in Tokyo in 2015 — one year ahead of the Japanese energy retail market opening to competition. It quickly became the largest energy switching company in Japan, serving a network of 50+ energy suppliers. 

SMAP followed closely behind, and was founded in the UK in 2016. 

Leveraging co-founder Yohei Kiguchi’s PhD research on smart meter data analysis developed during his time at the University, SMAP Energy counted Cambridge Enterprise, a number of academics in the engineering and economics departments, and its three alumni founders among the stakeholders.

SMAP is mainly engaged in the development and operation of SMAP, a smart meter data analysis software-as-a-service (SaaS) for energy providers. 

The company had a number of early successes — including participating in accelerators and pilot studies with Climate KIC, E.ON, EDF Energy, and Horizon 2020-funded projects — but its biggest opportunity was in collaborating with ENECHANGE. 

As ENECHANGE had existing pipelines to critical industry data through its price comparison service, there was an opportunity to offer additional data analysis services of smart meter data to their Japanese suppliers, helping them better understand the energy habits of their customers and increase the value of their business. 

ENECHANGE acquired a majority position in SMAP Energy in June 2017, and has collaborated to help deploy SMAP to its client base and build new ENECHANGE held its IPO in December 2020 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers market (Ticker: 4169) and currently holds circa $300M in market cap. ENECHANGE has made it a goal to become a category leader in the Energy Tech domain and will strengthen its position through this acquisition.

SMAP Energy Director Paul Monroe said: “We are very excited to announce this transaction and we are looking forward to further expanding our work with ENECHANGE. It’s been an exciting journey to bring our two companies that were started in a flat in Cambridge together. I would like to thank our investors, clients, colleagues, the University of Cambridge, as well as family and friends for supporting us. 

“Energy data products and services are an increasingly necessary part of accelerating the energy transition and promoting global decarbonisation. We now have a new goal — building a +$1B energy tech company together.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: SMAP Energy co-founders, from left to right – Paul Monroe, Yohei Kiguchi, Adnan Mortada

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