More global companies should be doing what GE is doing: seeking out ventures to invest in by sponsoring a worldwide contest that inspires innovation. The company’s just selected ten future commercial partners and five cash award winners in its Ecomagination Challenge, which seeks out new green tech ideas.
GE invited ideas about capturing, managing and using energy in the home, and teamed up with several VC firms to fund the best proposals. The money is serious: So far, $134 million has been invested in contest winners. Some $63 million of that’s going to to most recent set. And they are:
- Ember: It designs chips for smart meters and other sensor technologies.
- GMZ Energy: It’s working on technology for transforming waste heat into electricity.
- Hara: It develops software for carbon and energy management.
- Nuventix: It’s working on LED cooling technology.
- On-Ramp Wireless: It develops low-powered wireless monitoring and communications technologies.
- Project Frog: It creates smart building systems technology.
- SunRun: It’s a residential solar installation and financing company.
- Viridity Energy: It’s working on ways to balance energy consumption.
- VPhase: It’s developing a voltage optimization device.
- WiTricity: It’s working on sending electricity over distances.
This kind of high-profile competition is a win-win-win all around, and whether they’re run by governments (which can also take equity stakes) or the private sector, they serve the purpose of getting creative technology thinking into the public arena.
Source: General Electric