Centrica has launched a new venture – ‘Centrica Innovations’ – which is to invest £100 million in developing new energy technologies.
Centrica Innovations is to identify, incubate and accelerate the development of new energy-related technologies which the company said would create “new options for growth” and help embed innovation throughout the company.
The new division is expected to sit alongside existing business units including its connected home, distributed energy and power and digital technology teams.
Up to £100 million is to be invested over the next five years in start-up companies that provide Centrica with access to emerging technologies for use by its customers.
The company will place ‘scouts’ in key technology hubs around the world, notably Seattle, Houston, London, Cambridge and Tel Aviv.
In-house innovations will also be supported by the new division with Centrica intending to embed an “innovative culture” across its own operations.
Among the internal ventures to be supported is Io-Tahoe, a data software company that organises and manages data from various databases for more efficient analysis of British Gas’ 14 million energy customer accounts.
Iain Conn, group chief executive at Centrica, said the division’s launch was an “important step” in responding to the changing needs of its customers.
“The new venture will ensure innovation is embedded across our business and will allow us to invest in the technologies that can support our customers into the future.
“As the UK’s leading energy supplier, we have a proven track record in harnessing new technologies for the benefit of our customers. As the government launches an Industrial Strategy with technology and R&D at its heart, Centrica is focused on delivering a smarter energy future for the UK,” he added.
At this month’s Solar Finance & Investment Europe conference Lars Weber, senior originator at Centrica, said start-up energy companies were vital in the market due to their ability to keep much bigger suppliers on their toes and lauded their ability to offer better products and set good benchmarks.
Late last year Centrica announced it was to launch a £19 million trial of a virtual energy marketplace in Cornwall, linking local homes and businesses with renewable generators and battery storage facilities to assess their potential to save on consumer bills.