The late President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres once said: “In Israel, a land lacking in natural resources, we learned to appreciate our greatest national advantage: our minds. Through creativity and innovation, we transformed barren deserts into flourishing fields and pioneered new frontiers in science and technology.” Even at an advanced age, President Peres was one of the great global supporters of finding new solutions to the way we live, work and move.
Every day, new innovations are sought and discovered which can drastically and dramatically alter the way we live, shape our lives and meet the changing needs of people around the world. As an international energy and services company, and the UK’s largest supplier of electricity and gas, Centrica already brings power and gas to millions of homes and businesses. But our offer is changing and we’re continually working to develop new products, offers and solutions that are firmly underpinned by investment in technology.
At Centrica Innovations we’re looking to invest £100m (US$140m) in the very best ideas and businesses, and believe that Israel offers access to both great tech and some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators. We’re particularly interested in the distribution of energy, electrification of transport and increasing connectivity through data, blockchain and the Internet of Things.
Creativity and energy are the key building blocks of any hi-tech hub and it’s on an almost daily basis that we hear from our local Israel-based scouts about the new technologies emerging from the ‘Start-Up Nation’ at a dizzying speed.
But I believe it has become clear to investors around the world that Israel is not just at the cutting edge of invention and innovation but is a hub of activity in seeking to make a the world a better place, especially for the most vulnerable. At Centrica, we similarly look for solutions for those in need, so it should come as little surprise that we are already collaborating to this end.
Last week, we held our Active Ageing Challenge in London, inviting start-ups from all over the world to pitch to win £100,000 (US$140K) in funding, and we were delighted to award £25,000 (US$35K) to a brilliant Israeli business called EchoCare Technologies who are based in Beersheva.
They develop non-wearable, self-learning elder-care home monitoring devices which is a great solution to how we look after our elderly, and we’re looking forward to exploring opportunities to test their project out with some customers.
In Israel, the impossible frequently becomes the improbable and then the achievable, and we believe in harnessing this great and positive energy, not just for our customers but to ease and convenience people around the world. It is already strikingly true that almost every person with some type of daily interaction with technology frequently meets Israeli innovation as they go about their day.
Having acquired Panoramic Power, the leader in circuit level energy management solutions (in 2015), we see Israel as an excellent candidate for investment and are looking for new partners to work with us.
Our offer to potential Israeli partners is an opportunity to test their solutions and innovations with our global customer base. In turn, we welcome the opportunity for our partners to bring new ways of thinking to Centrica as we continue to serve millions of homes and businesses.
Centrica is committed to providing support to people and technology that can literally change the world, and we know that Israel, a nation whose innovators are always living on the edge of tomorrow can help us assist, develop and reshape the way the global community lives, works and moves.
The writer is the Director of Centrica Innovations and is in Israel for #GCVIsrael, Israel’s first corporate venturing conference, and to launch a £100 million Centrica Innovations fund.