GE launches phase 2 of ecomagination Challenge

Middle East is focal area for GE's US$200m ecomagination initiative

Past winning ideas of GE's Ecomagination Challenge have included a lightweight inflatable wind turbine.
Past winning ideas of GE's Ecomagination Challenge have included a lightweight inflatable wind turbine.

General Electric (GE) has unveiled the second phase of its US$200 million ecomagination Challenge, ‘Power Your Home’ seeking the best ideas for harnessing, managing and using energy at home.

Businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators can submit breakthrough ideas focusing on better ways to use energy in the home. With ‘Power Your Home,’ GE continues the largest challenge of its kind with a global call for the best ideas for improving household energy efficiency, energy management, and harnessing wind, solar, hydro and biomass power. The ecomagination Challenge is now open for ideas until March 15, 2011 at

Launched in 2005, ecomagination is GE’s commitment to conceive and construct pioneering technologies that help customers address their environmental and financial needs and help GE grow. To accelerate innovation, GE has doubled its commitment to ecomagination from US$5 billion to US$10 billion by 2015.

Today, there are over 90 ecomagination certified products, which contribute to addressing pressing environmental challenges, while also ensuring financial efficiencies for customers. The Middle East is one of the focal areas for GE in promoting ‘ecomagination’ in line with the region’s emphasis on sustainable development.

Nabil Habayeb, GE’s president and CEO for the Middle East and Africa region, said: “Sustainable development is the central pillar of GE’s growth strategy for the Middle East region, where we are partnering with governments in promoting energy and water use efficiency through our advanced technologies and solutions.

“Our focus on environment is highlighted by ecomagination, a visionary initiative that has the potential to bring about significant efficiencies in energy and water usage, and thus address the challenges of meeting the growing requirements in the region.”

He added: “With the Power Your Home ecomagination Challenge, we are reaching out to the wider global and regional community to share winning ideas – simple but transformational – which can be replicated to attain energy savings at home. This way, we are putting power management in the hands of customers, encouraging them to partner in addressing one of the most pressing challenges the region faces.”

The first phase of GE’s ecomagination Challenge concentrated on ideas for building the next-generation power grid. “We want to focus on innovation that people can touch and feel — what each of us does to harness and manage energy at home,” says Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer and senior vice president, GE. “We launched the Challenge to encourage new thinking and spur innovation at every level of development and have seen that many great ideas exist out there.”

According to the International Energy Outlook 2010 report, energy use in the residential sector, which accounted for about 14% of world delivered energy consumption in 2007, is set to grow at an average rate of 1.1% per year from 2007 to 2035. By improving the way consumers use energy, not only can energy waste be reduced through infrastructure deficiencies but the need for unnecessary power generation by optimizing end-point energy needs can also be decreased. Innovation for enhancing power use efficiency in homes will complement global efforts in managing the growing demand for energy.

The first phase of GE’s ‘Challenge: Powering the Grid’ received over 4,000 ideas around accelerating smart grid technology and creating a community of 70,000 people across over 150 countries. Announcing the results in November, GE along with its VC capitals also unveiled new investments totaling $55 million in promising power grid technologies.

In a statement, GE said that the level of engagement the company fostered with the Challenge was overwhelming, highlighting the power of networked ideas, collaborations and partnerships to accelerate innovation. GE received over 1,000 ideas focused on the home energy management space, which prompted the decision to emphasis on ‘Power Your Home’ for the second phase of the Challenge.

GE has partnered with well-known venture capital firms, including Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, KPCB and RockPort Capital, for the Challenge. An independent panel of judges will select the winning ideas from across the world.

The winners in the first phase of the Challenge provided ideas for a lightweight inflatable wind turbine; a technology that instantly de-ices wind turbine blades so they never slow or shut down; an intelligent water meter that can generate its own power; a cyber-secure network infrastructure that allows two-way communications grid monitoring and substation automation from wind and solar farms; and a technology that solves short-circuiting and outages from overloaded electric grids by enabling precise control over their flow and power. The winners received $100,000 to develop their ideas.


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