It’s been exactly four weeks since the launch of the “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid,” which is a $200 million commitment to find the best ideas from researchers, entrepreneurs and start-ups that will help create smarter, cleaner, and more efficient electric grids — and accelerate the adoption of power grid technologies. As of today, the 10-week challenge – one of the largest ever of its kind — has already had more than 950 ideas submitted from more than 60 countries. And more than 11,000 votes have been cast for the best idea.
|Around the world in 10-weeks: The ecomagination Challenge is still open. You can submit an idea or vote on the ones already on the site by visiting www.ecomagination.com/challenge.|
Ideas submitted so far range from a new take on wave energy using hydraulics to a hurricane-resistant wind turbine to an idea for solar roadways. To improve grid efficiency, submissions include installing ultra-capacitors to manage the output of renewable energy resources, and software solutions that use sophisticated algorithms to make use of abundant real-time data to predict future energy use. And on the topic of energy use, creative ideas have been offered, such as holding energy use competitions to get people engaged in thinking of new and better ways to save energy. And there are ideas such as intelligent adaptors and switches that would retro-fit energy guzzling devices at home so they can talk to new smart meters.
At the center of the Challenge is a $200 million commitment by GE and four venture capital partners. The goal is to use the initiative to find and fund innovative ideas that can be put to use quickly, or developed into marketable solutions in the near term. At the same time, the entry receiving the most user-submitted votes, will receive, subject to GE’s review for appropriate content, a cash award of $50,000. GE’s expert panel will also identify five innovation challenge award recipients to receive $100,000 in cash each to acknowledge these entries as examples of outstanding entrepreneurship and innovation. Judges may also award one or more entrants a GE Scientific Merit Award to work with GE Global Research — which is the technology development hub for all of GE’s businesses.
The Challenge was announced on the same day that another ecomagination effort was grabbing headlines: GE’s sleek new electric vehicle charger called WattStation. It not only turned heads because it was designed by Yves Behar, but it will reduce the amount of time it takes to restore the batteries of electric cars by up to two thirds. In the audio slideshow below, GE’s Michael Mahan explains how his team at Industrial Solutions came up with the idea – and he gives a preview of the home version of the WattStation.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ecomagination front, triplepundit.com — a blog that focuses on the triple bottom line of economic, ecological and social success — recently caught up with Steve Fludder, GE’s vice president of ecomagination. Just as the Challenge is about getting GE’s scale behind new ideas so that they can get adopted more quickly in a mass marketplace, Steve talks about GE’s experience in the wind industry, noting that, “Scale is everything,” when it comes to technologies such as wind turbines.
Learn more in these GE Reports stories:
* “Unveiled: $200M challenge, EV charger, smart monitor”
* “EU innovation survey IDs gaps as GE Challenge debuts”
* “Merging scale & innovation in GE’s $200M challenge”