Appswell Powers iPhone App for GE Ecomagination Challenge in Cleantech

Cambridge, MA-based Appswell’s crowdsourced approach to mobile applications development is going green. The startup announced today it is powering the mobile app component for General Electric’s Ecomagination Challenge, a $200 million contest aimed at generating innovative ideas in renewable energy, smart grid technology, and eco-friendly building technology.

Appswell, which describes itself as an “American Idol” for iPhone app ideas, allows anyone with an iPhone to submit what they think would make for a cool application, for other users to vote on. (The submission platform is Appswell’s own app.) Each month, it takes the most popular idea and makes it into a new app, and awards the owner of the idea $1,000 and a stake of the app’s future sales, Wade wrote when he profiled Appswell just after its October 2009 launch.

Appswell’s Ecomagination iPhone app allows consumers to enter and vote on cleantech business ideas on the go. The mobile feedback integrates with the challenge’s website, thanks to technology from San Francisco-based BrightIdea, a maker of software platforms aimed at managing innovation for organizations. Appswell’s involvement in the GE contest also marks the launch of its business services division, which is aimed at helping companies use the iPhone as a platform for social contests.

“We’re really excited to be working with GE on this,” Appswell CEO Dan Sullivan told me in a phone interview this afternoon. “Their willingness to tap the collective wisdom of the crowd is very impressive and very industry leading.”

“From a startup perspective, this is a perfect relationship for us,” he added.

There’s a lot at stake for those submitting cleantech ideas through the Ecomagination contest, which was announced last month. The 10-week challenge has competitors vying for five $100,000 grants. And the idea with the most user-submitted votes will get a $50,000 cash prize, according to the contest website. GE and other venture collaborators have also pledged to put $200 million toward investing in promising startups and ideas discovered through the contest.

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