GE Wants Your Smart Grid Ideas – Will Pay $200M

General Electric and a number of leading venture capital firms announced today what some have already dubbed “the biggest quest for ideas in history.” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt unveiled the “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid,” an open innovation challenge that will give $200 million to  smart grid ideas submitted through GE’s ecomagination website.

The challenge is global and targeted at technologists, entrepreneurs, and startups “to share their best ideas and come together to take on one of the world’s toughest challenges – building the next-generation power grid to meet the needs of the 21st century.”

GE and its partners – leading venture capital firms Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins, RockPort Capital as well as Wired magazine’s Chris Anderson – will evaluate the ideas and invest the $200 million capital into promising startups and ideas.

With this challenge, GE wants to “make cleantech a reality,” said Immelt in front of media and guests at the LEED-certified Bently Reserve in San Francisco this morning. The grid is the “key to the future,” and GE’s ecomagination challenge “will only open up digital investment” and allow GE to be at the forefront of the smart grid movement, said Immelt. By working “shoulder to shoulder with some of the smartest venture capitalists” Immelt plans to “use GE’s assets to move [the smart grid]quickly” to scale.

“Innovation is the engine of the global effort to transform the way we crate, connect and use power,” Immelt said. “At GE we have invested broadly and deeply in digital energy solutions and see this as a substantial market for us, but we can’t do it alone. We want to work with our partners to make sure we have a comprehensive digital energy offering.”

Immelt acknowledged that GE’s not going to have all the good ideas itself but that it has the assets to move and commercialize the smart grid quickly. “There’s nobody who does commercialization better than GE,” said Immelt.

GE made two more important announcements. It introduced the Wattstation, an electric vehicle charger that is smart-grid compatible. Designed by Yves Behar – the creative mind behind Mission Motor’s electric motorcycle One – the Wattstation is said to on average decrease electric vehicle charging time from 12-18 hours to as little as four to eight hours compared to standard charging “level 1”, assuming a full-cycle charge for a 24 kWh battery. GE further unveiled Nucleus, a communication and data storage device that provides consumers with secure information about their household electricity use and costs so they can make more informed choices about how and when to use power.

GE has been investing heavily into green yet scalable products over the last few years, and the latest introductions will surely add to GE’s continued strong positioning in the future.

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5 comments on “GE Wants Your Smart Grid Ideas – Will Pay $200M


This is what it takes! Companies that know scale to take up the lead… VCs and big business working together from the start, this is win-win for everyone. While this is great news, developed nations’ governments (I’m speaking of the US and EU for the most part) need to take the next step and coax these companies to invest in local manufacturing capacity for these products if we stand a chance to remain economically and ultimately geo-politically relevant in the long run.

The folks from DOE’s ARPA-E were in the audience today, gratefully that team is made up of forward thinking people that were behind the loan guarantee program and other market stimulus mechanisms that appear to be working. These partnerships between VCs, entrepreneurs, and companies that understand scale is what it is going to take to make sustainability a commercially viable option for commercial and individual consumers, but, unfortunately for you libertarians out there, it will take forward thinking policy to ensure we capitalize on the opportunity to strengthen our economic vitality.

Thanks, Ian – I couldn’t agree more. Don’t you think it was about time that one of the major cleantech players came up with an idea like this? Sure, there’s a lot of cash involved to finance this campaign – much more than the $200M if you include marketing dollars – but I expect GE and its VC partners to see even bigger returns by tapping into the intellectual capital of smart “CleanTechies” around the world.

Paul V. Preminger

About time that the big players got on board and started to search for ideas!!

The best of luck to all!

Paul V. Preminger

I attended the European opening ceremony of the 200 mio experiment at the GE research Center in Garching near Munich, Germany.

Here are my remarks:


im intrested in everything here. and i have ben working on alot of ideas

for years on power and how to make it fair for everyone . one of my ideas

would be the best way to go but it is free power. im not shour if that would fly with everyone in the world being that money is what makes the world go round.

anyway i invented a way to make free power using compresers batterys and aultanaters to run and power anything . and by doing so it powers it self.

i have a working modle of a genarator that can power an out side sorce and genarate power for it self everything put out is reused and nothing is lost. i can make the home genaraters small enuff that it could only be as big as a ac it would sit out side the house and power everything and you would never need to pay another bill again. if this is somthing what you are looking for please replay by mail at , 4001 white hall dr arnold mo 63010 thank you. i also have ideas on air cars and perpetchul motion . anything is posabol. my ideas work and im intrested in working with anyone that wants to make a change.

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