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GE Offers Big Reward for Home Energy Innovation



General Electric has rolled out a contest giving eco-entrepreneurs the chance at two of the things they covet most: opportunities to get noticed and get funded.

As part of its initiative to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technology, GE has launched a series of challenges designed for businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students to share their best ideas for achieving those goals.

The most promising proposals have the chance to receive a total of $200 million in funding from some of GE’s partners in the challenge, including Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, KPCB and Rockport Capital.

The first installment of the $200 million challenge — the “Powering the Grid” competition — wrapped up last November, with 12 ideas each receiving $100,000 in funding.

Last week, GE took things one step further, announcing plans to acquire FMC-Tech, an Ireland-based provider of real-time power line monitoring technology, and one of the 12 challenge winners.

If it weren’t for the challenge, GE officials said, they likely never would have heard of FMC-Tech.

“With the acquisition of FMC Tech’s portfolio, GE will be able to provide a new level of grid intelligence to utilities, improving decision-making and streamlining operations with real-time information on power outages and available capacity on power lines,” Bob Gilligan, CEO of digital energy for GE Energy Services, said in a press release.

The second phase of the challenge — Powering Your Home — is under way now, with judges searching for breakthrough ideas for home energy creation, management and use.

More than 800 proposals have been submitted so far, including ideas for desalination plants, solar hot water, and plug-in solar and wind power.

All entries can be reviewed on the GE Ecomagination website. Winners of the second phase of the challenge are scheduled to be announced in June.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.