GE and its venture capital partners will invest $63 million in 10 innovative home energy technology companies, marking the second round of funding as part of the $200 million “GE ecomagination Challenge.”

This phase of the Challenge, “Powering Your Home,” was launched in January. At present, GE and its partners have invested or committed to invest $134 million in the home energy and power grid technology developers announced as winners of the Innovation Challenge. The Challenge has also produced 22 new commercial partnerships and resulted in the acquisition of FMC-Tech, a smart grid technology from the first phase.

Going forward, GE will commit this additional $20 million for scaling and commercializing ideas from the Challenge through a new ecomagination Innovation Council. GE and its VC partners plan to launch a region-specific ecomagination Challenge in China later this year, as well as establishing a $5 million seed fund in Europe with Carbon Trust to provide support for early stage ideas that need assistance getting off the ground.

The $63 million in investments and commercial partnerships in phase two include 10 new concepts from consumer clean tech sectors including solar, communications & software and building efficiency. A full backgrounder on these companies is available at www.ecomagination.com/announcements, and the list includes:

  • Ember, Boston, MA (Communications and software)
  • GMZ Energy, Waltham, MA (solar systems and services; co-investment with KPCB)
  • Hara, San Mateo, CA (Communications and software; co-investment with KPCB)
  • Nuventix, Austin, TX (Building efficiency)
  • On-Ramp Wireless, San Diego, CA (Communications and software)
  • Project Frog, San Francisco, CA (Building efficiency; co-investment with RockPort Capital)
  • SunRun, San Francisco, CA (Residential solar systems and services; co-investment with Foundation Capital)
  • Viridity Energy, Conshohocken, PA (Communications and software)
  • VPhase, Manchester, UK (Building efficiency)
  • WiTricity, Watertown, MA (Communications and software)

GE also announced the five Innovation Award winners, who will each receive a $100,000 grant to further develop their technology. They were selected by an independent panel of judges including challenge advisor, Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, GE executives and leading academics and technologists. Videos of the winners are available at www.ecomagination.com/announcements. They include:

E.quinox, London, UK (Solar and home solar financing) – Energy and clean water “kiosk”

e.quinox is a student-run initiative to bring cost-effective, renewable energy to developing countries through off-grid, stand-alone photovoltaic systems - a system that uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity

PlotWatt, Durham, NC (Communications and software) – Cognitive metering to slash energy bills

PlotWatt develops smart meter software that analyzes data to identify energy usage of appliances and provide customized money-saving recommendations via a web dashboard, mobile applications, email and text message

Pythagoras Solar San Mateo, CA (Building efficiency) – Solar windows

Pythagoras solar window technology simultaneously delivers energy efficiency and solar energy generation without sacrificing the appearance of a traditional window, enabling the design and construction of more sustainable, economically viable buildings

Suntulit, Freemont, CA (Building efficiency) – Air conditioning control system

Suntulit’s air conditioning control system uses data such as room temperature and occupants of a room at any given time to learn user needs and offer ways to reduce utility bills by as much as 30%

Xergy, Georgetown, DE (Building efficiency) – Cutting edge refrigeration compressor

Xergy’s new green compressors can be used in household cooling devices like refrigerators and air conditioning systems to reduce energy consumption by 65%.

This first round of Challenge funding, announced in 2010, provided $71 million to break-through technologies in energy storage, utility security, electric vehicle charging services and energy management software.

Best Buy Partnership

In tandem with the investments, GE and Best Buy Co., Inc. are partnering to fast-track the commercial availability of two Challenge technologies -- the VPhase home energy control device and the Suntulit air conditioning control system -- so they can be ready for retail testing through select Best Buy retail channels in the future. Also, GE’s groundbreaking Nucleus Energy Manager, as well as smart appliances with Brillion technology, will be available through select Best Buy stores in early 2012. GE Energy Smart LED light bulbs will be available through select Best Buy store locations in late 2011. The Nucleus, which will retail for approximately $149, is an affordable communication and data storage device that provides consumers with information about their household electricity use and costs so they can make more informed choices about how and when to use power.