GE, Kleiner Perkins, Emerald, And More Launch $200 Million 'Ecomagination Challenge'

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Today at a special ‘Ecomagination’ event in San Francisco, General Electric is announcing the launch of the $200 million GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid, an investment that’s meant to help spur advances in green grid technologies. The fund is launching in partnership with VC funds Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and RockPort Capital. Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson is also involved.

GE says that it is looking for proposals in three categories: Renewables, Grid, and Eco Homes & Eco Buildings. Applicants can submit ideas on ecomagination.com over a ten week period. Entrants will be eligable for both “a potential future commercial relationship” with GE and one of five $100,000 awards that are meant to highlight submissions demonstrating “outstanding entrepreneurship and innovation”. Submission will open today, and will close on September 30. A short list of candidates will be announced on October 21, and the awards will be announced November 9.

Entrants that stand to land a commercial relationship with GE will be judged by a committee made up of GE businesses and the participating VC firms. There wil also be a second committee (which includes Wired’s Anderson, GE execs, and academics) that will be weigh in on both the commercial relationship candidates and which will choose who wins the $100,000 awards. Full details on the challenge rules are at ecomagination.com/challenge.

GE’s ecomagination initiative launched in 2005, and has invested $5 billion since its inception, with plans to invest another $10 billion in the next five years.

During the event, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt discussed why the company believes the initiative is so important, detailing how it will help the company grow while also helping the environment.

Today the company also announced the WattStation, a docking station for electric vehicles that looks more stylish than other chargers. GE is also announcing Nucleus. It’s a communications device that smart appliances/water heaters/etc, allowing consumers to track their energy usage directly from their laptop.

Immelt says that internally the company has been talking about “digital energy” — changing the way energy is created, distributed across the grid, used, and monitored by the consumer. Immelt expects this market to grow by ten fold in the next two decades, projecting a jump from a ~$18 billion market in 2009 to a ~$110 billion market in 2030.

Disclosure: GE will be sponsoring TechCrunch’s Green Tech section in the near future.

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