zorandim75 - Fotolia

Centrica acquires data discovery startup Rokitt Astra

Parent company of British Gas has acquired a machine learning company to bolster its data analytics business

The innovation arm of Centrica has acquired Rokitt Astra, a US software company that specialises in using machine learning to understand data.

Mike Young, Centrica’s group chief information officer, said: “Digital technology, particularly big data and the actionable insights provided by data analytics, is influencing and accelerating change in many markets, including the energy market. Data science and analytics are core components of our long-term technology strategy. The acquisition of Rokitt Astra is an exciting and value-creating addition to our digital technological capability.”

In February this year, Centrica Innovations (CI) announced it would invest £100m over the next five years in startups and an incubation and acceleration programme to support its existing businesses, such as energy supply, services, connected home and distributed energy and power.

CI’s stated goal is to identify and invest in physical and digital technologies and innovative ideas that can deliver new products, offers and services to both residential and business customers.

The acquisition supports Centrica’s Io-Tahoe data management business, a data lake software and services company. Io-Tahoe provides products to organise and manage data across multiple structured and unstructured databases. With Centrica’s British Gas utility business, it is being used to unlock insights into the utility’s 14 million energy customer accounts.

Charles Cameron, group director of technology and engineering at Io-Tahoe, said: “Centrica Innovations will benefit from the substantial expertise in the area of data discovery offered by Rokitt’s employees across the US, India and Ukraine, where operations will continue.”

Speaking about Centrica Innovation in February this year, company CEO Iain Conn said: “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. We are already investing £1.2bn to 2020 in our Connected Home and Distributed Energy and Power businesses, helping residential and business customers to take control of their energy and save money.”

In September 2016, Centrica deployed a large-scale Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) cluster to power its data analytics in a bid to become a data-driven business.

Read more on CW500 and IT leadership skills