GE announces smart grid winners

Sensemaking / GE announces smart grid winners

20 Jan 2011

Ecomagination channels $200 million to cleantech start-ups

A turbulent third quarter for clean technology received a timely stimulus in November with the announcement of the winners of General Electric’s ‘Ecomagination Challenge’; the first of several rounds of innovation funding intended to exploit what GE sees as a “$20 billion opportunity”. In collaboration with four leading venture capital firms – Kleiner Perkins, Emerald Technology Partners, Foundation Capital and Rockport Capital - contributed $10 million collectively – GE is investing $190 million over the next 18 months, in an effort to spark the development of a smart electricity grid.

The investments will flow to 11 companies and one educational programme, who are working on a range of projects including energy storage, energy management software and electric vehicle charging services.

This sort of collaboration between start-ups and established players is seen as vital to the continued growth of the cleantech sector, since most young companies are ill-equipped to deal with the complexities and capital demands associated with bringing cleantech innovations to the market.

Among the winners is Columbia University’s School of Engineering, which has developed a plan to optimise recharging Manhattan’s first fleet of electric delivery vehicles, to be deployed by FedEx Express in 2011.

“This is a great win for New York City,” said Columbia’s Roger Anderson. “It promises a quieter, safer, and healthier environment for all of us who live and work here.”

- Gordon Macrae

Image credits:Henrik5000 / istock

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