The owner of British Gas has announced plans to invest £100 million in smart technology start-up companies in the next five years.
Centrica said the new venture, dubbed ‘Centrica Innovations’, will strengthen its ability to identify and invest in technologies and ideas that can deliver new products, offers and services for customers.
It will place scouts in key technology hubs – Seattle, Houston, London, Cambridge, Tel Aviv – and support existing in-house ventures such as lo-Tahoe, a software and services company that helps unlock insights from British Gas’ 14 million energy customer accounts.
It will also act as an “incubator” for external ventures which are not yet at maturity level for investment and require different types of support, like business expertise, mentoring or product piloting.
Iain Conn, Centrica’s Group Chief Executive said: “The launch of Centrica Innovations is an important step in identifying and responding to the changing needs of our 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 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.”
The company previously launched the ‘Hive’ thermostat that allows customers to control their heating via an app.