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GE Challenge to Focus on Home Energy Use

GE has announced the latest phase of its $200 million low-carbon innovation program, with a call for proposals on home energy management.

The new round of GE’s ecomagination Challenge, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will invite ideas for technologies and business models to help reduce home energy use.

The challenge offers entrepreneurs $145 million in venture capital, provided by firms Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, RockPort Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Another $55 million has already been committed by GE and its partners, to power grid technology companies.

Entrants will compete to secure GE’s help with distribution and product development, as well as access to GE customers and consultations with the company’s technical and commercial teams.

A judging panel of GE executives, academics and technology professionals will also select winners for five $100,000 Innovation Awards.

Previous rounds of the challenge focused on renewable energy and transmission grid efficiency.

GE decided to center the latest round on home energy use after receiving thousands of related entries in previous phases of the challenge, chief marketing officer and senior vice president Beth Comstock said.

“The volume of ideas in this area sparked us to take a new look at consumer energy usage and focus on innovation that people can touch and feel – solutions that can help harness and improve energy efficiency at home,” Comstock said.

The challenge has received more than 4,000 ideas, 1,100 in the home energy use category.

Judges will re-examine those entries, and the challenge will open to new entries from January 18 to March 1.

It is part of GE’s wider ecomagination initiative, launched in 2005 to foster the development and deployment of clean energy technology. GE says the program has brought over 90 “ecomagination-approved products” to market, generating revenues of $18 billion in 2009.

Recent ecomagination projects include work to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles and the ecomagination Treasure Hunt, which aims to help cities, universities and businesses reduce energy waste.

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