The Southeast’s battery industry is operating on a full charge these days.
The most recent sign is the North Carolina-based FlexGen announcement of a $100 million Series C funding round this week from Vitol and a pool of previous investors.
FlexGen originally got off the ground working on military operations and their use of energy.
“But we were always searching for what we would consider a sustainable market,” Yann Brandt, FlexGen’s CFO, told Hypepotamus. “The grid is going through an enormous transition. The types of generating [energy] sources are largely shifting and being diversified…and the total amount of electricity we’re using is increasing because of data centers, digital infrastructure, electrification in the home, and the electrification of transportation. That’s putting a lot of stress on the grid.”
FlexGen takes a unique approach to this problem. As a software and hardware startup, FlexGen works with utilities, energy companies, and others invested in grid infrastructure and helps these companies design better energy storage solutions.
The team is currently around 130 people, with about 100 of those based in North Carolina, according to Brandt. FlexGen has two offices in Durham; an innovation lab and a tech HQ in downtown Durham.
“Our market is expanding, our customers are expanding, our geographic diversity is expanding,” added Brandt. “We’re continuing to grow and I think our investors agree with that. That’s what led to a successful round and what has really shaped us to be the most bankable energy storage integrator in the space.”
Sparking Battery Innovation in the Southeast
FlexGen’s growth comes as the whole battery and battery technology space continues to spark innovation in the Southeast.
SK Battery, which manufactures battery cells for Ford and Volkswagen vehicles, opened its 2.4 million-square-foot facility in Commerce, Georgia to accommodate the growing electric vehicle (EV) market.
Georgia is also home to Energy Assurance, North America’s largest battery testing lab, and Johnson Energy Storage, a startup working on a lithium-ion battery to be used in electronics requiring reliable power and power storage.
JTEC Energy, also founded by Johnson Energy Storage’s founder Lonnie Johnson off Super Soaker fame, raised a $30 million venture round earlier this year.
On the consumer side, Charlotte-based BatteryXchange has been on a mission to create a more convenient portable charging option for mobile phones.
Greensboro, North Carolina is home to Soelect Inc., a Series A startup developing a fast-charging lithium-X anode battery.
The Southeast is home to 32 battery-specific startups, according to available Crunchbase data.