GE is going back to the innovation well. Encouraged by the success of its $200 million Ecomagination Challenge — a crowdsourced contest, which yielded scores of grid-scale technology and investment opportunities — the Connecticut-based conglomerate is turning up the heat on the hunt for innovative home energy solutions.
The search includes both today’s and tomorrow’s technology. Starting with upgrades to existing gizmos — kitchen appliances, washing machine and dryer and other domestic energy hogs — innovative ideas are also sought for future solutions, such as electric car recharging systems or software apps to help cut power use.
Announced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, GE’s decision to extend the Ecochallenge was spurred by the huge volume of home-related ideas submitted in the first phase of the competition. Of some 4,000 submissions, more than a quarter focused on home energy use.
“Powering your home” is seeking submissions across two broad categories: energy efficiency, including appliances and air conditioning, as well as software systems to manage home energy; and renewable power, including familiar solar and wind systems but also residential-scale hydro and biomass solutions.
Select winners will be offered the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE through:
• Investment: $145 million of the $200 million pool from GE and its partners remains to be committed.
• Validation: GE technical and commercial experts will evaluate entrant’s business strategy through in-depth discussions.
• Distribution: The company will also explore partnership opportunities to scale the product or service globally.
• Development: Winners can tap into GE’s technical infrastructure and GE Global Research Centers to accelerate technology and product development.
• Growth: They can also explore opportunities for utilizing existing GE customers to take winning products to market.
The panel of expert judges — which includes GE execs and leading academics and technologists — will also pick five ideas that represent pioneering entrepreneurship and innovation. Winners of these Innovation Awards will score $100,000.
Launched in July 2010, the ecochallenge is a collaboration with leading venture capital firms Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and RockPort Capital, and Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired magazine. Also joining this stage of the project is Carbon Trust, a London-based not-for-profit with a track record of commercializing low carbon technologies.
This phase of the challenge seeks will re-examine ideas already submitted as well as new proposals submitted before the deadline of March 1, 2011. The contest is open to proposals from around the globe. Learn more at www.ecomagination.com/challenge.