GE Ecomagination Named an 'Influential Action' of 2011 by Huffington Post

Jan 20, 2012 9:00 AM ET
Campaign: Energy at GE

Society and Business in 2011

As aptly captured by Time magazine, 2011 was the 'Year of the Protestor.' From the Arab Spring to the UK riots to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstrations, 2011 witnessed an outpouring of popular discontent aimed at governments and businesses alike. But while OWS dominated headlines here at home with its anti-capitalism message, a quieter, but just as transformative story was taking shape in parallel: that of businesses leading the charge to make the world a better place for the majority. It is a variety of capitalism that would have been fundamental to Adam Smith but is exceptional among capitalists in the 21st century.

With little fanfare, corporations are responding to social challenges - from poverty, to environmental degradation and access to technology. 2011 may one day be remembered as the year when CEOs began to address many problems of society and the year when sustainability joined profit as a driving force of decision making in corporate boardrooms and value creator for corporate stakeholders.

Below are seven influential actions in 2011 that captured this emerging shift in business' relationship with society and caught my eye. With Rio +20 taking place this summer, look for the trend to continue in 2012.


6. GE's Ecomagination

A division of GE, Ecomagination, is leading the charge in providing finance for start-ups developing clean technologies and infrastructure. Over the summer, GE awarded its first Ecomagination Challenge Awards, a contest that will distribute $200 million to innovative start-ups. Going even farther, GE also established a $20 million fund to scale and commercialize the products identified by the challenge. The contest has turned the traditional R&D model on its head - moving energy and infrastructure research away from labs of governments or large companies into the outside entrepreneurial community.

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