Home energy software, communications, efficiency and solar start-ups get investment from GE

Yesterday the winners of GE’s Ecomagination consumer clean technology project were announced. The project is a way for GE to crowd-source innovation in the electricity and energy field and is an expanding way for the company to develop new products and systems. The winners included two solar systems and services companies, Sun Run from California and GMZ Energy from Massachusetts.

Pythagoras Solar was also selected as one of the winners for its window technology. In a release announcing its success, Pythagoras claims its technology, "revolutionizes the design and construction of buildings and answers market demand for aesthetically appealing architectural solutions that offer sustainability benefits and fast return on investment."

The GE winners were selected from nearly 5,000 submissions. The $63 million was shared in 22 commercial partnerships and one direct acquisition for GE. Five Innovation Award winners were also announced, who will receive $100,000 each to further develop their technology.

GE has committed an additional $20 million to fund commercial pilots with the winning innovators and GE, with its VC partners, will fund a region-specific challenge in China later this year. The total investment in the first two stages of the challenge comes to $134 million. GE collaborated with RockPort Capital, KPCB, Foundation Capital, and Emerald Technology Ventures on the Ecomagination Challenge.

In the first stage, the "Powering the Grid" challenge, smart grid technology companies were also amongst the winners. Ireland’s FMC-Tech received support for its power line monitoring system, which acts as a virtual nervous system for a smart grid; Secure RF from Connecticut partnered with GE Digital Energy to provide smart grid security systems; and Sentient Energy in California developed information technology systems for smart grid electricity distribution and fault detection

SustainX from New Hampshire was also a winner in the grid stage, and will work with GE on compressed air energy storage. This has the potential to allow for utility scale energy storage in more advanced renewable energy markets such as Europe.