Today General Electric unveiled five award winners in its $200 million open innovation challenge, which focused on finding smart solutions to powering our grid. The competition, which was launched in July, is part of General Electric’s Ecomagination initiative to accelerate development of the next-gen power grid and global energy transformation through open collaboration. The five winners of the challenge will each receive $100,000 for their ideas, which will lead to a “smarter, cleaner, more efficient electric grid.” Read on for a look at each of the finalists!

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The winners were picked by an independent panel of judges including challenge advisor and Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, GE executives, and leading academics and technologists. The winners were picked for their visions, which address the critical issues of water supply, frozen wind farm blades, wind turbine cost, and the security and reliability of the smart grid. The five winners are:

Capstone Metering: Intelligent Water Meters – Carrollton, Texas
Capstone Metering applies remote communications technology to the century-old water meter. The company’s IntelliH2O is self-powered and delivers real-time water system management, which helps conserve water and eliminates the need for manual meter-readings

ElectricRoute: Secure Communications Network, Salem and Hollis, New Hampshire
Recognizing the substation’s importance in the electric grid, ElectricRoute (founded by the father of our very own Kevin Dalias!) created a communications gateway point for transmission and distribution systems. Its cyber-secure communications network infrastructure eliminates duplicate sensors and thousands of copper lines running inside the substation.

GridON: Controlling Power Quality in Electric Grids, Givatayim, Israel
GridON has created a fault-current-limiter to protect the electric grid from disruptions and power outages, increasing the grid’s reliability and enabling load growth and generation expansion from alternative energy sources. This technology was developed in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University and Ricor Ltd.

Lead photo © Mirko Tobias Schaefer

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IceCode: Wind Turbine Blade Anti-Icing and De-Icing, West Lebanon, NH
Seeking to break one of nature’s strongest bonds, IceCode’s technology removes ice by using high-power pulses to apply heat from the inside out. Employing this technology for wind turbines substantially reduces the amount of energy used for de-icing and eliminates downtime for ice removal and inspection. The tech was developed in collaboration with Dartmouth College.

WinFlex: Inflatable Wind Turbines, Kiryat Yam, Israel
WinFlex produces rotors for wind turbines from light, flexible and inexpensive cloth sheets made out of composite materials. This flexible rotor design reduces installation costs by at least fifty percent and shortens the return on investment to three-four years, without subsidies.

The winners were picked from nearly 4,000 ideas, and the contest facilitated robust conversations across the open innovation platform between 70,000 entrepreneurs in more than 150 countries over a 10-week period. “We launched the Challenge to encourage new thinking and spur innovation at every level of development,” said Beth Comstock, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, GE. “The first step toward modernizing our grid is to uncover ideas and transform them into game-changing technologies and the Challenge has demonstrated that many great ideas exist out there. The smart thinking and compelling business cases presented make these innovation award-winning ideas examples of pioneering entrepreneurship.”

+ Ecomagination Challenge