GE and partner companies have launched a $200 million open innovation challenge that seeks new ideas from technologists, entrepreneurs and start-ups to create a smarter, cleaner, and more efficient electric grid. The “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid,” also aims to accelerate the adoption of more efficient grid technologies.
The proposals are segmented into three categories: renewables, grid and eco homes/eco buildings. Select entrants will be given the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE through five key areas: investment, validation, distribution, development and growth.
The $200 million capital pledge will be invested globally into promising start-ups and ideas. Entrants will also have discussions with GE’s technical and commercial teams about business strategy and partnership opportunities. They will have access to GE’s technical infrastructure and GE Global Research Centers to accelerate technology and product development, and GE’s customers to take Challenge products to market.
The global challenge, launched in collaboration with venture capital firms Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer and RockPort Capital, and Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired magazine, is part of GE’s ecomagination initiative, a global commitment to build innovative clean energy technologies.
GE’s revenues from its Ecomagination products reached $18 billion last year from the sale of more than 90 products, up 6 percent from $17 billion in revenue from more than 80 products in 2008.
The challenge is open to anyone aged 18 years or older and all legally formed entities. Entrants will be able to submit their ideas via www.ecomagination.com from July 13 to September 30, 2010. Entries will be evaluated as candidates for both a potential future commercial relationship as well as a $100,000 innovation challenge award.
In the wake of the eco challenge launch, GE also unveiled Nucleus, a communications and data storage device for home energy management. The home energy “command center” provides consumers with secure information about their household electricity use and costs so they can make better choices about how and when to use power.
As utilities deploy smart meters, the Nucleus device will collect and store a consumer’s household electricity use and cost data for up to three years, and present it to consumers in real-time using PC and smart phone applications.
Nucleus is the first product in GE’s Brillion suite of smart home energy management solutions that will help consumers control their energy use and costs. The Brillion product suite will include a programmable thermostat, in-home display, a smart phone application, and smart appliances.
In addition to monitoring their whole-home energy consumption, consumers will have the option to automatically adjust thermostats or alter the consumption of GE Profile appliances with Brillion Technology. Future options will also include alerts to assist consumers with daily tasks, such as when to change the refrigerator’s water filter or when the dryer cycle ends.
Software upgrades will further enable Nucleus to monitor water, natural gas, and renewable energy sources, as well as plug-in electric vehicle charging. Nucleus will be available for purchase in early 2011 at an estimated price of $149-$199.