Beyond the Valley, GE is the Ultimate Green VC

GE’s (s GE) got its massive Ecomagination green product line that churns out wind turbines, smart meters and water filtration technology, but the conglomerate has another green side: cleantech VC. GE’s VP of its Ecomagination division, Steve Fludder, told an audience at the Cleantech Forum this morning that GE will continue to look for investments in innovative green technology startups — so far GE has invested in 16 companies to the tune of $150 million over the past two and a half years, he said.

In such a difficult economic climate, scoring funds from GE is like winning the lottery — GE doesn’t just bring cash, it can connect a startup with its thousands of researchers and strong partnerships with industry and government. And given GE’s manufacturing history it can also aid in commercializing products on a massive scale. In 2009, Fludder says GE’s eight-member investing team will still be keeping busy. In the past, GE has invested in startups as diverse as smart grid company GridNet, lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems and purification company Advanced Electron Beams.

There’s also the pot at the end of the rainbow: a GE acquisition. Fludder pointed out that GE developed most of its clean water business through acquisitions. This year, Fludder said it will keep the flow of acquisitions going. “We’re as hungry as we’ve always been,” he added.