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British Gas owner acquires IoT tech to detect leaky pipes

Tue 30 Aug 2016

British Gas

Centrica, owner of UK energy supplier British Gas, has bought an IoT startup for £13 million in the hope of using its smart technology to identify leaky water pipes in homes.

In an attempt to lure back customers after a considerable drop-off, the energy giant is exploring new technologies including a push into the ‘connected home’ space.

In its latest string of acquisitions, Centrica this week added FlowGem to its portfolio – a London-based early stage company developing ‘unique and innovative technology to remotely detect water leaks.’

While the multinational group did not provide specific details on the deal, it did reveal that the device was ‘currently in prototype.’

‘We are not able to confirm at this stage exactly what will be launched. We will need to develop the product to fit on our platform,’ a spokesperson said.

Centrica recently pledged £500 million for an IoT investment plan to bolster its Hive Connected Home system. Under the programme, it already offers a wide connected home product range including smart thermostats, and remote-control plug sockets and lights.

Last year the energy supplier bought Cambridge-based smart home company AlertMe for £44 million – a smartphone-based system which triggers boilers to send notifications when they are malfunctioning.

Centrica commented that the FlowGem deal would strengthen its smart home offering, and place it as ‘a leading internet of things business.’

‘This acquisition will enable us to expand what we can do to help customers manage their homes more effectively using technology, and will enrich the offer from our existing services businesses,’ said Nina Bhatia, managing director at Centrica’s Connected Home business.

She continued: ‘We are very excited to be extending our capabilities in this new area of leak detection, as we look to 2017.’

FlowGem CEO Daniel Green also added that the use of IoT to detect in-building water issues is a pioneering approach which will encourage users to take action. ‘We are delighted that our technology will have a place in homes in the future as part of the Hive ecosystem.’

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