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Smart water: The Intellih20 water meter from Capstone Metering, a company that won $100,000 from General Electric in an open-innovation program.

Stefan Lindegaard, an innovation consultant and the author of The Open Innovation Revolution, says GE’s project is a model for how to open the corporate innovation process. It succeeded as well as it did in part because the company has enormous market reach and a big network of partners. Access to these things is “much more rewarding than cash prizes” for many startups, Lindegaard says.

GE’s next “ecomagination challenge” is focused on home energy-management systems, and winners will be announced this spring.

The company is also trying to improve on this innovation process itself. Land says the first round demonstrated a natural bias on the part of the judges toward business proposals from companies in the Western Hemisphere. To change that, GE will try to develop a more diverse pool of evaluators, he says.

Michael Mascioni is a freelance writer in New York.

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Credits: ClimateWell, Capstone Metering

Tagged: Business, Business Impact, GE, smart grid, Innovation Strategy

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