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Centrica-backed investor ploughs cash into AI start-up

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Centrica has further boosted its new energy technologies credentials after £200,000 was invested in artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Grid Edge by the company’s energy focused impact investment fund Ignite.

The Birmingham-based company, formed by researchers Tom Anderson, Dr Jim Scott and Dr Dan Wright, has developed cloud-based energy management software which uses AI to forecast buildings’ energy requirements over a four-hour period to optimise its consumption.

This is said to result in a 25% reduction in energy use, improving system resilience while cutting emissions and energy bills at the host location.

The new investment will allow Grid Edge’s founders to focus on building it into a commercial venture, while creating four roles at its headquarters with three more planned by the end of the year.

Tom Anderson, chief executive of Grid Edge, said: “This investment is a game-changer for us. We can now focus on accelerating our product development and establishing a real footprint in the commercial market. Our ambition is to be in more than 500 large-scale buildings within five years.

“Ignite is the perfect partner for us and we have a shared vision for the future of this venture. In addition to the financial support, the expertise and industry insight provided by the Ignite team is already proving invaluable.”

The Centrica-backed Ignite supports emerging and mature organisations working in the energy sector to fulfil a social need. Since 2014, the fund has supported more than 25 enterprises and has £10 million to spend over the next decade on companies seeking a minimum of £50,000 of debt/equity investment.

Sam Salisbury, investment principal for Ignite, said:  “We believe Grid Edge is a fantastic example of an enterprise that could truly benefit society, which is the key reason why we’re backing the team.

“The technology could have huge potential for the commercial and public sector and we’re particularly excited about the opportunity it offers housing associations and local authorities; helping them to cut carbon emissions, reach energy efficiency targets and create warmer, healthier places for tenants to live.”

Centrica has been building up its own energy software resources recently as it moves towards a decentralised energy model. Its Distributed Energy & Power division was established two years ago but has grown quickly following acquisitions of ENER-G, Neas Energy and Panoramic Power. It is aiming to develop its own new software tools to boost its energy management and trading capabilities as a result.

It is also assessing the potential for it to bring its ‘Energy Portfolio’ platform to the UK market for the first time to allow consumers to be more proactive and selective in how they procure their energy and “better understand” the energy market in general.

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