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BP Ventures looking to make ‘complementary’ investments to create digital tech portfolio

Image: BP.

Image: BP.

BP Ventures is creating a portfolio of “complementary” investments, including into artificial intelligence, that are of interest to the company following its investment into R&B.

Speaking to Current±, Graham Howes, managing director for BP Ventures in Asia, said Chinese energy management company R&B – which BP Ventures recently made a £2.7 million investment into - came onto BP’s radar when looking at China.

The company is "well established in the market" and has developed a “really good platform for energy management”, Howes said.

The investment into R&B will support BP Alternative Energy’s focus on low-carbon power, storage, the digital energy value chain and wider energy as a service offers.

Alternative Energy saw R&B’s platform as a “really useful tool and application” that could be integrated into its offer, Howes said, and Alternative Energy will be able to learn from how R&B is managing buildings and the data it is collecting.

The artificial intelligence element of R&B is “of interest”, Howes confirmed. This follows BP Ventures also investing in UK-based AI firm Grid Edge, which whilst being in an earlier stage of development than R&B has “some really interesting techniques that they’re developing around AI”.

“We see them as being potentially complementary and potentially big players in their respective markets.”

Howes also pointed to previous investments into Voltaware and Chinese electric vehicle charging solution firm PowerShare.

Voltaware is developing an electricity sensor and AI-based electricity data intelligence platform specialising in energy disaggregation, predictive maintenance of equipment and energy-saving advice.

“So Voltaware is kind of collecting access to data, R&B is doing the analytics and diagnostics of the built environment and PowerShare is doing the energy management and the aggregation in the mobility space.

“You can start to see the synergies and complementarity between companies we’re investing in,” Howes said. “It’s being able to build a portfolio around digital technology.”

“We like to pick companies that we think are distinctive in their own area and can be standalone, but then also look for investment in parallel areas so we can join them together.”

BP Ventures is actively looking at direct investment opportunities in China in five strategic areas: advanced mobility, power and storage, carbon management, bio- and low carbon products and digital transformation.

Part of the attraction of China is its early adopter attitude to technology, as well as the ability to “scale extremely quickly through sheer number of people”.

“China, being a willing market, an early adopter and an adopter at scale is a very interesting place for BP generally, but BP Ventures in particular from an investment point of view,” Howes finished.

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