GE recently announced plans alongside venture capital partners to invest $63 million into 10 home energy technology companies as part of its $200 million ecomagination Challenge. This is the second such cleantech event completed by GE and its partners – last November it was announced $50 million would be invested in leading grid technology companies in a similar matter.
In addition to the large scale funding announced by GE, five winners of an Innovation Award as another part of this ecomagination Challenge were chosen to each get $100,000 to further develop their technologies. They were said to be selected by an independent panel of judges including challenge advisor, Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, GE executives and leading academics and technologists. The winners of the Innovation Awards are:
- E.quinox, London, UK (Solar and home solar financing) – Energy and clean water “kiosk”
- PlotWatt, Durham, NC (Communications and software) – Cognitive metering to slash energy bills
- Pythagoras Solar San Mateo, CA (Building efficiency) – Solar windows
- Suntulit, Freemont, CA (Building efficiency) – Air conditioning control system
- Xergy, Georgetown, DE (Building efficiency) – Cutting edge refrigeration compressor
Looking forward beyond this serious cleantech funding exercise by GE, the company said it will also commit an additional $20 million for scaling and commercializing ideas from the Challenge through a new ecomagination Innovation Council. It is also not stopping in the U.S. – plans are afoot for “a region-specific ecomagination Challenge in China later this year, as well as establishing a $5 million seed fund in Europe with Carbon Trust to provide support for early stage ideas that need assistance getting off the ground.”
GE also let it be known that, by partnering with electronics retailer Best Buy, two Challenge technologies – the VPhase home energy control device and the Suntulit air conditioning control system -will be available for retail purchase through Best Buy retail channels in the future.
All total, GE said it and its partners have invested or committed to invest $134MM in the home energy and power grid technology developers who were chosen in the Challenge. The Challenge has also produced 22 new commercial partnerships and resulted in the acquisition of FMC-Tech, a smart grid technology from the first phase.