Is “off-grid” the new “on-grid”?  Bloom Energy thinks so. The company is a start-up based in Silicon Valley, California and it claims to have found a solution to both reducing harmful byproducts and providing energy at lower costs than the current average market rate.  Their compact power plants are run on everyday elements such as oxygen and can be as small as a lunchbox.

The “Bloom Box” is currently being used by some major corporations such as Google, FedEx, and Wal-Mart.  Through advanced technology, the box achieves significant energy savings in applications where there is a consistent and significant need for power.  At times when the box is not being used at full capacity, it can actually sell energy back into the power grid!

Whether this box is just another passing fad or a game changing invention, it brings up interesting topics in international business.  New products must not only meet demand of consumers, it must also create demand.  A great example of this is the iPhone.  Consumers weren’t aware they needed a cell phone that could take pictures, play music and receive email until Apple Inc. created it.

Bloom Energy has captured the world’s attention because it has the potential to change world economies and conditions in a profound and positive way.  To me, the excitement generated by this week’s announcement gives a glimpse of the pent up demand the world has for meaningful innovation.  In my opinion, it is time for companies to perform a self-check on their research and development to ensure effective management.  This can also apply to new business models in which a company finds new ways to interact with customers and create profit.

The winner of the world markets will be the first one to present solutions that create demand, not meet it.  Companies today must measure their effectiveness with not only good market execution, but also on their ability to reinvent themselves and the industry in which they work.


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