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Smart motor startup inks $80 million funding round led by Bill Gates, Robert Downey Jr.

March 3, 2021, 11:14 AM UTC

Turntide Technologies, which makes a smart motor system for buildings that can sharply reduce energy consumption, has completed an $80 million funding round, with backing from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and others.

The company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said the round takes its total funding to date to $180 million. Other newly announced investors include Keyframe Capital, Fifth Wall, and Captain Planet LP.

The company produces the Smart Motor System, which it says is based on an updated, cloud-connected version of a switched reluctance motor, or SRM. SRMs, already used for decades in some applications, are simple, rugged motors that have gained popularity because of their dependability and ability to handle stress, including high temperatures.

Turntide says its Smart Motor System has helped reduce energy consumption for clients by an average of 64%, compared to the conventional electric motors used in homes for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

“Turntide’s Smart Motor System addresses a huge market with innovation that not only is higher efficiency, but also lower cost,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “The applications for this type of solution are incredibly broad and impactful.”

The funding will also be used to develop a building automation software program, Riptide IO, that the company has acquired, and extend its Building Operation System platform to more buildings, including schools and offices.

Energy efficiency and building operation efficiency have come under increasing scrutiny as the “last mile” of decarbonization. While many of those challenges come from building materials, others come from retrofitting already existing buildings to be lower or zero carbon, including by making them more efficient. Buildings consume about 39% of energy annually in the U.S. and are responsible for 12% of the country’s emissions.