Global Cleantech 100 Summit & Gala
Washington, DC – Oct 17, 2011
On behalf of GE, I want to thank the Cleantech Group for this prestigious award. Thank you for putting on such a fantastic event and for making us a part of it.
This award goes to the heart of what we value at GE. Innovation is in our DNA. It has been the cornerstone of our company since Thomas Edison invented some of the world’s most transformative technologies 130 years ago. Today, GE has approximately 36,000 technologists working across our businesses and global research centers. We have an additional 2,800 researchers all searching to uncover the next breakthroughs, in Upstate New York, Bangalore, Shanghai, Munich and Rio de Janeiro. More recently, in June of this year we opened our latest multi-disciplinary Research and Development Center in Israel.
While we place significant emphasis on innovation inside GE, we also realize that even with all of our resources, we can’t do it alone. We don’t always have the best ideas, so we understand the importance of supporting and partnering with those who are attacking a problem in a new and perhaps a better way. Some can help in current problem-solving efforts in our existing businesses, while others are in unrelated areas but with huge potential for game changing innovation.
We also appreciate and value the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that resides in good venture companies and we want to support and nurture that energy and creativity. These are the real hero’s in my view. We don’t want to smother them so our investments are usually minority stakes alongside other savvy venture investors including many folks in this room. We seek to offer these companies more than money, giving them the opportunity to tap into GE’s technical and commercial resources to help accelerate their growth.
We are committed to investing in the technologies that have the potential to change everything from how we power our cities and homes to the kinds of cars we drive. And this year alone, we’ve invested in more emerging energy tech companies than ever before.
This year’s record pace was driven in large part by our $300 million joint venture with NRG Energy and ConocoPhilips, called Energy Technology Ventures, which we launched in January this year. We thank NRG and ConocoPhilips for their partnership. We are better venture investors and better partners for the companies we invest in thanks to the significant skills and talents that they bring to the table. And through GE’s Ecomagination Challenge, which is believed to be the largest open innovation challenge of its kind, we received nearly 5,000 submissions from a community of 74,000 innovators since the July 2010 launch, seeking investment and other support.
At the end of the day, no matter where it comes from, innovation is at the core of our ability to solve the world’s biggest problems. When we put our collective imagination to work, we are able to get that much closer to solutions that answer these challenging problems. I am more optimistic than ever about our ability to overcome those challenges when I spent time with our venture companies. We scour the world looking for these opportunities and the US is still, without question, the place where we find the most innovation.
So, it is with all of these partners in mind, coupled with the tens of thousands of GE employees committed to innovation every day, that I humbly accept this award on their behalf.