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PKN Orlen invests in hi-tech wind turbine and inspection companies

GDANSK (Reuters) -Poland's biggest oil refiner PKN Orlen stepped up its commitment to new technologies on Thursday, saying it had invested in a company that helps improve the efficiency of wind turbines and another that automates infrastructure inspections.

The investments are in Eologix Sensor Technology and Invert Robotics Group respectively, and were made through PKN Orlen's venture capital fund Orlen VC, the company said.

"In terms of the investment value, in both cases we are talking about 2-3 million euros ($2-3 million) each," Orlen VC investment director Marek Garniewski told Reuters.

Orlen VC bought 10-20% stakes in both companies through new share issues, he added.

"We want the founders, that is the people who are running these companies to keep their huge motivation to continue developing them," Garniewski said.

Austria-based Eologix Sensor Technology makes systems that monitor turbine blade angles, turbine element placement and ice detection, which can help to increase turbine efficiency by up to 20-30%, Orlen said in a statement.

The system can be installed on new as well as existing turbines.

Ireland-based Invert Robotics Group develops machines to automate inspection processes for industrial infrastructure, necessary to extend its lifetime. These tasks are currently performed by technicians in what can be an expensive and dangerous process, Orlen said.

"Acquiring and efficiently implementing innovation determines the competitive position of Orlen Group," the company's chief executive Daniel Obajtek said in the statement.

He first announced the investments in a post on Twitter.

Orlen VC's portfolio also includes Polish industrial cybersecurity solution provider ICSec.

The multi-energy group launched Orlen VC in March, with a goal of accessing new solutions and technologies and deploying them in the group’s core and related businesses, while maintaining positive return rates.

($1 = 1.0041 euros)

(Reporting by Karol Badohal and Patrycja Zaras; Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)