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As Centrica Launches Its ‘Centrica Innovations’ £100m Fund, Verdantix Believes It Should Look To Facilities Optimisation For Its New Wave Of Exciting Technologies

On February 20, Centrica announced the creation of a new venture called ‘Centrica Innovations’ (CI). The new business unit will include a venture fund of up to £100 million to drive growth and access new technology and innovation.

The establishment of CI is another step in line with Centrica’s more customer centric strategy, focused on delivering improved customer services, new technologies and capabilities such as battery based propositions. Centrica Innovations will build on Centrica’s existing £10m social entrepreneurship fund, Ignite, established in 2014, which will now sit within CI. The venture will support existing businesses within Centrica including their energy supply and services business and the Connected Home, Distributed Energy & Power and Digital Technology units. Centrica’s CI will be:

• Placing scouts in key technology hubs – Seattle, Houston, London, Cambridge, Tel Aviv;
• Delivering a new venture fund to invest in start-ups;
• Incubating and accelerating in-house and external innovations;
• Supporting a more innovative culture across Centrica.

Centrica’s creation of a new fund to invest in start-ups reflects a major change over the last few years in how utilities invest in new technologies to offer innovative services that differentiate them from the competition in the changing energy market. Centrica’s acquisition of Panoramic Power in late 2015 provides device-level energy management solutions, allowing users to not only view their energy consumption but also operational performance.

But that’s not the only shift in the market. Many firms are looking beyond energy as a standalone line item to be managed and see it instead through the lens of facilities optimisation. Verdantix predicts that some of Centrica’s new fund will be used for investments in optimization solutions and services. Some exciting technologies to keep an eye on are beacons used to collect occupancy and temperature data, autonomous lighting technologies, remote monitoring and control offerings across boilers, CHP and HVAC and circuit breakers with embedded meter technology.

For more insight on hot trends in the energy management and facilities optimisation market, see our recent report Market Overview: Real Estate, Energy and Facilities Information Management.