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GE launches USD200m power grid technology challenge

GE has launched a USD200m open innovation challenge that seeks breakthrough ideas to create a smarter, cleaner and more efficient electric grid, and accelerate the adoption of more efficient grid technologies.

The challenge invites technologists, entrepreneurs and start-ups 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.

"Innovation is the engine of the global effort to transform the way we create, connect and use power," says GE chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt. "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. This challenge is about collaboration and we are inviting others to help accelerate progress in creating a cleaner, more efficient and economically viable grid. We want to jump-start new ideas and deploy them on a scale that will modernize the electrical grid around the world."

The 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 commitment to build innovative clean energy technologies.

Proposals are sought in three, broad categories: renewables, grid and eco homes/eco buildings.

Select Challenge entrants will be offered the opportunity to develop a commercial relationship with GE through:

• Investment: the USD200m capital pledge of GE and its partners will be invested globally into promising start-ups and ideas
• Validation: evaluate entrant’s business strategy through in-depth discussions with GE’s technical and commercial teams
• Distribution: explore partnership opportunities with GE to scale a business and create global reach
• Development: leverage GE’s technical infrastructure and GE Global Research Centers to accelerate technology and product development
• Growth: explore opportunities for using existing GE customer to take challenge products to market

The USD200m commitment aims to help bring these new ideas to market by providing businesses and individuals with the opportunity to secure growth capital through GE investment and/or investment by participating venture capital firms. It is open to anyone aged 18 years or older and all legally formed entities.

Over the course of ten weeks, entrants will be able to submit their ideas via ecomagination.com. Entries will be evaluated as candidates for both a potential future commercial relationship as well as a USD100,000 innovation challenge award acknowledging their entry as an example of outstanding entrepreneurship and innovation.

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