26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Jonathan Tudor, technology and strategy director, Centrica Innovations

In September 2017, Jonathan Tudor left petroleum producer BP, where he was managing director of its BP Ventures unit, and accepted “an offer I could not refuse” to head a corporate venture capital (CVC) subsidiary of UK-listed energy utility Centrica.

Tudor, the winner of a Global Corporate Venturing Rising Stars award in 2016 and Powerlist 2018 and 2019, had been venture director at lubricants provider and a division of BP Castrol’s CVC arm Castrol InnoVentures, before its reorganisation into BP Ventures in 2017.

Tudor had worked at Castrol and BP, where he had found ample support as a “self-confessed geek, who likes technology with the allure of making money in addition to shifting the corporate dial,” since 2012.

Following three years at glass manufacturer Schott, Tudor’s initial move into investing was as an investment director at government technology contractor Qinetiq’s venture capital arm, Qinetiq Ventures, from 2002 to 2007, before its secondary buyout backed by Coller Capital led to the formation of CG Innovation Partners.

In addition to his core activities, Tudor is head of British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s CVC committee, and wants to “share best practice on how to manage strategic measures, as well as work on training and the professionalisation” of the work done by corporate venturers.

Tudor brings a decade of venture experience to Centrica, where he is joined by vice-president of ventures Christophe Defert, who was this year’s GCV Rising Star, and has scaled up a unique blend of corporate and impact venturing for the utility.

Centrica launched Centrica Innovations in January 2017 to invest £100m ($125m) in startups for five years. The unit incorporated the £10m Ignite social impact fund in 2014, which won GCV’s corporate impact venturing award in 2016 and whose portfolio includes Grid Edge, a developer of artificial intelligence-equipped energy management software.

“The CVC market has come of age. If you go back 10 to 15 years, a lot of corporations had a bad reputation when it came to venture capital. We have grown up as a sector in terms of knowing how to behave and, in particular, knowing how to act like a traditional VC,” Tudor told GCV in an interview held in February 2020.

“But we offer founders more than finance and often that gives us the edge. There is an increasing number of deals and outcomes that validate corporate venturing as an important tool in the private equity market.”

For example, Centrica Innovations reinvested in electric vehicle charging management technology developer Driivz in February 2020, having already co-led its January 2019 funding.

In December 2019, Centrica Innovations exited industrial cybersecurity technology developer Indegy, which was acquired by cybersecurity software producer Tenable for $78m. The unit had participated in Indegy’s $18m August 2018 series B round.

Concerning Centrica Innovation’s strategy going forward, Tudor said: “All corporates have a social responsibility. We are an energy company, so climate is extremely pertinent to us. We are on a road to net-zero and this directly impacts our investment strategy.

“Achieving true decarbonisation requires a diverse range of people and thinking. We are looking to invest in entrepreneurs in a way that empowers them to do more in this space without having to relinquish too much of their company. While the double bottom line is important, it does not lie at the heart of our investment strategy.”

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF