Case Study
July 27, 2017

Building a Brighter Future

In a first-of-its kind partnership, IBM Research spun out its Smarter Energy big-data analytics team to form Utopus Insights, an independent startup venture seeking to become a leading provider of next-generation intelligent energy solutions. In addition to IBM, investors include Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO), a leading and award-winning utility, and Boston Consulting Group.


When IBM Research was considering spinning out its Smarter Energy group to create a new entity to pursue energy innovations, Utopus Insights and its management team turned to Goodwin to help make it happen.

Our Approach

Led by Goodwin’s Technology Companies practice, a cross-office, cross-disciplinary team of attorneys advised Utopus Insights on everything from deal and company structure, to real estate and company naming, to compensation, tax and employment considerations. “One of the unique challenges of this deal was balancing the requirements of the two main joint venture partners, one of the world’s leading technology companies, and a highly regulated utility which was investing in its first strategic transaction, while affording our client, Utopus Insights and the management team, with attractive terms. It turned out to be ‘win, win, win’ for the three constituencies,” said Stephen Davis, a partner in Goodwin’s Tech practice.

Under the agreement between IBM Research, VELCO and Utopus Insights, IBM’s Smarter Energy team founded Utopus Insights, taking related intellectual property, technology and existing contracts with them. Teaming with VELCO, an electric transmission company owned by in-state electric distribution companies, Utopus Insights combines industry experience with world leading analytical expertise to convert data into actionable insights in the energy area.

The Outcome

Structured for scalability, growth and wide latitude on future exit options, Utopus Insights is creating dependable, industry-tested software that will be indispensable to the current and growing customer demand for reliable, clean and cost-effective energy. “The energy industry is at the confluence of disruptive technological and economic trends like the growth of digitization, renewables, energy storage and electric vehicles,” said Dr. Chandu Visweswariah, IBM Fellow, co-founder, president and CEO of Utopus Insights. “With an experienced and talented team, field-proven technology, industry partners and a broad patent portfolio, Utopus Insights is more than an advantaged start-up.”