The Future of Innovation: GE’s Ecomagination Challenge

GE got their share of the headlines in the innovation community last month. I think it is well deserved as they gave us a very good example on how innovation is shaping up in the corporate world with their Ecomagination Challenge.

The short story of what GE does is to connect internal and external resources and set-up a solid process that allows them to executive on the opportunities that arise from this combination.

This is exactly what we should expect to see in the future. A couple of years from now, this will not be something special or unique. It will simply be an integrated part of how companies innovate and it will work because it builds on three key elements for the future of innovation: it’s fast, it’s open and it’s global.

Let me share what I like about the Ecomagination Challenge.

Clear focus and target group:

This is what GE writes about the challenge: “…is an open call to action for businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students seeking breakthrough ideas to create a cleaner, more efficient and economically viable grid, and accelerate the adoption of smart grid technologies.”

They have a clear focus and they know who they want to engage in this project.

Bring great partners together:

Having the clear focus, they have brought together a group of partners that help achieve their objectives. This includes some of the best-known venture capital firms, including Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, KPCB and Rockport Capital, to help back the most promising ideas.

Great partners also include BrightIdea, which is one of the leading suppliers of platforms to such projects. And yes, they also rely on you and many others with the crowdsourcing element of the project.

Clear communication and clear processes:

GE has done a great job promoting the challenge, which has lead to good coverage in the press and within the blogging community. Hey, they have even created an iPhone app for this project.

Furthermore, the project has some simple and well-described processes as you can see in the How it Works and FAQ sections of the site.

GE scores extra points by giving away innovation awards to the entry with the most user-submitted votes as well as to 5 cases that stands out as examples of great entrepreneurship and innovation. A cool $1 million for this….

Other companies should pay attention as this is a great example on how to re-think innovation processes for the future. I look forward to see how the challenge develops.

By Stefan Lindegaard

About Stefan Lindegaard

Stefan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation. He facilitates peer-to-peer network groups for corporate innovation directors and managers and he is the founder and facilitator of the 15inno by Stefan Lindegaard group on LinkedIn, which counts more than 1100 global corporate innovation leaders and many others interested in innovation. Stefan Lindegaard believes open innovation requires a global perspective and he has given talks and worked with companies on open innovation in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. His blog is a globally recognized destination on open innovation. You can read further at http://www.15inno.com.
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