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American-Made Challenges

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Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Identify innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent lithium-ion batteries.
stage:
Evaluation Entity Webinar
prize:
$5.5 million in total prizes
more
Summary
Timeline
Updates25
Forum39
Teams580
Entries
Resources
FAQ
Evaluation Entities
Summary

Overview

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize

Innovation happens when the right resources, people, and passion come together to address a challenge. With the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, teams of creative individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses will advance conceptual solutions to prototypes and finally to pilot validations to address challenges with the lithium-ion battery recycling supply chain. The goal of this phased prize competition is to develop and demonstrate processes that, when scaled, have the potential to capture 90% of all discarded or spent lithium-ion batteries in the United States for eventual recovery of key materials for re-introduction into the supply chain.

 

Prize Continuation

Continuation of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize will leverage funds authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to administer and award a total of $7.4 million in cash prizes and voucher support to prize participants over the next 3 years, approximately. This continuation is designed to bolster participation from new competitors while providing additional support to Phase III winning teams.

 

Breakthrough Competition

This new public contest aims to incentivize new submissions from battery industry entrepreneurs that demonstrate innovative solutions that work toward or deliver on the goal of the prize, while continuing to support the further development of Phase III winning solutions. This phase consists of two simultaneous competition tracks:

  • Track 1: New Competitors —Legal business entities based in the United States with single process ideas, partial solutions or full concept solutions that enable or meet the prize goal. Track 1 is open to new participants and previous competitors of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize. A single business entity may participate as a new competitor, or teams may be comprised of multiple businesses.
  • Track 2: Verified Competitors — Phase III winners are invited to further develop their concept solutions with the added support of a $100,000 noncash voucher to be spent at a Voucher Service Provider within the American-Made Network. Voucher work must support the continued validation and demonstration of their Phase III pilot-scale solutions.

Breakthrough will award up to $1.2 million total in cash prizes to up to six teams within Track 1: New Competitors and up to $800,000 total in cash prizes and $100,000 in voucher funding to up to four teams within Track 2: Verified Competitors. In total, Breakthrough will award up to $2.4 million in prizes to up to 10 winners. In addition, the 10 Breakthrough winners will be eligible to advance to Phase IV of the competition. 

For more information about the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Breakthrough competition,  refer to the official rules.

 

Evaluation Entities

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize is seeking qualified lithium-ion battery recyclers and second-life testing organizations to support Phase IV as Evaluation Entities. To become an approved Evaluation Entity, private organizations and facilities must first apply to become a Voucher Service Provider on the American-Made website

Learn more about how to become an Evaluation Entity. 

Timeline
Updates25

Challenge Updates

Apply Now to Become an Approved Evaluation Entity

Aug. 17, 2023, 1:55 p.m. PDT by Prize Administrator

The Evaluation Entity application is now open! Qualified lithium-ion battery recyclers and second-life testing organizations can follow these steps to become an approved Evaluation Entity and collaborate with Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize participants in exchange for voucher funding. Please be sure to join the American-Made Network before you apply. 

Refer to our Evaluation Entities page to learn more about this process. Participants can check back regularly as approved Evaluation Entities are added. 

We will be hosting an informational webinar on Wednesday, October 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET to share more information about the Evaluation Entity role and application process. Register now to join this webinar, and submit any questions in advance to .


Join Us: Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Networking Reception

July 26, 2023, 10:35 a.m. PDT by Prize Administrator

Please join us on Tuesday, August 8, at 5:00 p.m. in Indianapolis, IN, for this unique networking reception, following the first day of the NAATBatt Lithium Battery Recycling Workshop. This reception is free and open to the general public and workshop attendees, although we request that interested parties sign up for the event

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with prize participants, industry stakeholders, voucher service providers, and potential evaluation entities.

Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Networking Reception
Tuesday, August 8, at 5:00 p.m.
The Center | The Heritage Group
6320 Intech Wy
Indianapolis, IN 46278

Attendees will learn more about recent Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize updates and identify potential collaboration opportunities to strengthen concepts and Breakthrough submissions.

Sign up for the reception here: https://forms.office.com/g/rgJQk2RVRf 


Watch the Breakthrough Kickoff Webinar!

July 19, 2023, 10:16 a.m. PDT by Prize Administrator

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Administrators hosted an introduction to the prize continuation and Breakthrough Contest on Tuesday, July 11, at 1 p.m. ET. We would like to thank everyone who attended this informational session. For those who were unable to attend, the webinar recording is provided below. 

 

Please submit any questions to BatteryRecyclingPrize@nrel.gov. 


Reminder: Breakthrough Kickoff Webinar July 11

July 10, 2023, 12:19 p.m. PDT by Prize Administrator

Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11, at 11 a.m. MT to learn more about the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Breakthrough contest.

This informational webinar will include everything you need to know about competing in the Breakthrough contest—including the rules, timeline, and submission requirements. A recording of the webinar will be available after the event.

Register now for the webinar. We hope to see you there!


DOE Announces Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Continuation

June 12, 2023, 12:07 p.m. PDT by Prize Administrator

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the continuation of the American-Made Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize to leverage funds authorized in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to further the development of innovative solutions that contribute to the recovery of lithium-ion batteries. 

First launched in January 2019, the Battery Recycling Prize has to date awarded $5.5 million for innovative solutions to collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries. In recognition of its ongoing importance in informing larger battery recycling efforts, DOE is announcing $7.4 million to fund a new Breakthrough Contest, as well as Phase IV of the Prize. 

Public Breakthrough Contest Now Open

The continuation of this prize begins with a public Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Breakthrough contest to incentivize submissions from battery industry entrepreneurs, including new or former prize participants, to propose single process ideas, partial solutions, or full concept solutions that enable or meet the prize goal. In addition, Breakthrough invites the Phase III winners to further develop their concept solutions with the support of additional $100,000 noncash vouchers. 

Up to ten Breakthrough winners will receive a $200,000 cash prize and advance to Phase IV of the competition to show how effectively their solution contributes to establishing infrastructure to move spent or discarded LIBs from consumers to recyclers across all commercial uses. Phase IV will culminate with a $1 million cash prize awarded to a single “Grand Prize” winner and up to $3 million in cash prizes distributed equally among up to four “Runner Up” winning teams. 

As part of Phase IV: Demonstration of Impact, participants will work alongside recyclers and second-life testing organizations—Evaluation Entities—to validate their proposals. We encourage eligible organizations to stay tuned for more information on becoming an Evaluation Entity for this prize. 

Read the Official Breakthrough Contest Rules.

Join prize administrators for a virtual kickoff and informational webinar on Tuesday, July 11 at 1 p.m. ET. Click here to register for the event.


Forum39
Teams580
Entries
Resources
FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Each of the seven Phase II winning teams may receive up to $100,000 in voucher funding to use with the VSPs designated in their Phase II submissions. This amount will not be adjusted based on the number of Phase II winning teams across the labs. Each team may use voucher funds with up to three VSPs and may not exceed a total amount of $100,000. At least $50,000 must be utilized with a national lab VSP, and the minimum amount for any voucher work is $10,000. Phase III participants may seek additional support from VSPs that may exceed $100,000 but must be funded by that team and will not be eligible for the use of voucher prize funding. 

Due to continued travel restrictions and unknown future guidance on travel, we have not been able to designate a specific time frame. The Prize Administrators predicts the visits will likely be conducted between Jan-March 2022, with the continued potential of being a virtual visit.

Due to continued travel restrictions and unknown future guidance on travel, we have not been able to designate exactly who will attend the site visit. It is not likely to exceed a party of five attendees. 

Each visit will be proposed by the Prize Administrators after reviewing the Progress Updates.

We appreciate your patience with the ambiguity of the site visit. We will provide detailed information to the teams as soon as we possibly can. In summary, the visit will likely take place sometime between Jan-March 2022 at a location and date proposed by the Prize Administrators after reviewing the Progress Updates and will not likely exceed a party of five attendees. 

It is the team’s responsibility to verify and provide proof of compliance for their selected end recycler. As stated in the rules, the end recycler identified must be compliant with all EPA and state requirements (paying close attention to requirements for universal and hazardous waste and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Laws and Regulations, as applicable) and the end recycling facility must be located in the United States.

We encourage teams to include all relevant information to demonstrate that an end recycler verified the quantity of LIBs recovered during pilot validation. 

Teams are responsible for confirming that your end recycler meets regulatory requirements. We encourage teams to acknowledge this compliance within your final submission. 

No, please include all relevant information within the 20-page final submission. The Phase III rules clarify that the single-page cover sheet is the only item not included in that 20-page maximum. Any additional information will not be reviewed by the prize judges. 

You can find all of the entries here on HeroX at on the Entries page. We have also added a new Partners page highlighting the winning teams and their contact information. Winning teams must provide the Prize Administrator with a signed consent form to have their contact information added to the Partners page

Partnering is simply a way to strengthen your submission for Phase II and to provide a more comprehensive solution to the battery logistics issue. As stated in the rules, partnering is not a requirement, however, it is encouraged, due to the variety of skill sets needed to comprehensively address this issue.

A maximum of 15 projects will be considered and they must have the same "team name" as the 15 winning submissions. No additional entries will be accepted. 

Yes. Groups that did not win in Phase I can partner with winning teams to submit a concept for Phase II. In order to be eligible for Phase II, a submission must include one of the leading team members from a winning team.  Visit the Entries tab to see all Phase I entries. 

Over the next nine months we will be showcasing the capabilities available at the National Labs through this voucher program. We plan to have representatives of these National Labs give a short presentation of these capabilities at the Demo Days partnering event on June 3. 

You can always email or post on the forum for answers to any questions that come up during Phase II.  

You can only lead one but you can participate in multiple submissions. This will be clarified in the upcoming Partnering Webinar on March 11, 2020.  

It is up to your team to determine the agreement between your partnerships. Each Phase II winning submission will receive one check to distribute among partners accordingly. The Prize Administrator will not be involved in inter-partnership disputes.  To elaborate further, we will be hosting an in-depth Partnering Webinar on March 11, 2020. 

Generally Universities are either non-profit organizations or part of a state government.  If this is the case with your university, then the university is not an eligible entity to compete.  One way for competitors to submit a submission package under an eligible entity would be to create a business entity by incorporating, or otherwise forming a legal business entity through the Secretary of State of a state of your choice.  

Voucher funds are reimbursed expenses that are redeemed, they are not considered direct funding by the Prize. Phase II winners are encouraged to consult a tax expert to confirm when determining their income. 

Teams are not required to work with any national labs, however, they will only be able to use up to one half of the awarded voucher funds at business organizations. For example, if you receive $100,000 voucher funds, then you will only be able to use a maximum of $50,000 at business organizations. Teams will lose any voucher funds they do not use. 

A template will be provided outlining the Phase II submission required components. These sections will match what is provided in "What to Submit" beginning on page 12 of the Phase II Rules and Scoring Criteria. The final submission will include a 15-page Proof of Concept and Partnering Narrative as well as a recorded video of concept validation, no more than three minutes long. 

Vouchers are intended to enable participating teams to consult expertise outside of their own organization. Participating teams cannot select the leading business entity of their own team as a VSP. Participating teams may identify partnering entities and other team’s leading businesses as VSPs if they have been approved to join the AMC network.

The Curriculum Vitae (CV) and partner descriptions should provide a history of academic credentials and/or a description of skills and qualifications of each member/partner.  CVs and partner descriptions should be limited to one page per team member and will not count toward the page limit.

Submissions are not required to identify a specific destination facility. However, as clarified on page 15 of the Phase II Rules, the end-to end solution will be scored on “a robust, well-articulated approach to deploy and test a pilot-scale end-to-end solution successfully in Phase III.” Teams are encouraged to be as specific as possible in their submissions. 

The projected recovery of LIBs and the completed table included on page 14 of the Phase II Rules under Impact Modeling are the baseline projections for each solution concept and should incorporate the 2018 sales data as described in the Appendix. Additional impact projections may be provided separately within the final submission, within the 15-page limit, where the calculations and assumptions will be considered by each judge. 

No, there is no template for that letter. The Prize Administrator does recommend that the Letter of Commitment from the entity be on an official letterhead.

Each team can designate up to three people to present and participate in the judges Q&A session. Additional team members, partners, and guests can be invited by the designated presenter(s) to listen in on the presentation as muted attendees. 

The Participants Day presentation is an invite-only event and will not be open to the public or other competing teams (unless they have been invited by the team presenting). The designated Presenters from Phase II online submissions will each be provided a unique link for their team’s presentation. In addition, Presenters will receive an attendee link to share with partners, teammates, and guests as they see fit. Each presentation will include up to three presenters per team, a panel of judges, and members of the Prize Administration Team.

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Accept Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

Or, you may contact a challenge administrator directly at BatteryRecyclingPrize@nrel.gov

Thank you for submitting your question to the forum on Battery Recycling Prize. We value your participation and will do our best to respond to your questions/concerns within five to seven business days. We thank you for your patience and interest.

Unfortunately, a national laboratory cannot compete.  But individuals from a national laboratory can win an award provided he/she is NOT competing in an official capacity of the laboratory.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 


 

If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at challenge@nrel.gov.

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response. 

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office and Advanced Manufacturing Office and administered and executed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
 

No. Lead-acid batteries are already collected and recycled at a rate of 99%. However, lithium-ion batteries are only collected and recycled at a rate of less than 5% so we are looking for innovative ideas to cost effectively and efficiently recycle critical materials from lithium-ion batteries.

Yes. We encourage you to promote your technology to schools, battery companies, local electronics organizations and other technical outlets.

For Phase I, yes, you may submit one solution that focuses on one of the tracks.

Eligible teams/participants can participate in and submit innovations for multiple prize tracks; however, eligible teams/participants are required to select a single track per submission and are limited to one solution per submission. Eligible teams/participants who would like to apply to multiple tracks need to submit separate solution packages for each track to which they apply.

Both U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are eligible to apply as individuals. In the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. All business entities must be incorporated in the United States and conduct any work on the prize in the United States. As authority to conduct this prize comes from a U.S. statute (15 U.S.C. 3719), the rules must comply with the eligibility requirements contained in the statute.

We recommend that you view this video in the HeroX Knowledge Base (https://www.herox.com/help/153-team-forming-and-submitting-an-entry?search=true). Please let us know if you have additional questions that you weren't able to have answered by watching the video.

Participants may partner with any non-federal entities and/or organizations, so long as submissions adhere to the Official Rules. Individuals and teams seeking experts to partner with may visit the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize Community page within HeroX and click on the “Team Matching” button.

Federal entities and federal employees are also not eligible to win any prize contests in this program. Federal grantees may not use federal funds to develop submissions. Federal contractors may not use federal funds from a contract to develop prize competition submissions or to fund efforts in support of a prize competition submission. A participating entity shall not be deemed ineligible because the entity used federal facilities or consulted with federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all entities participating in the competition on an equitable basis.

Yes, you may be a stakeholder in two different submissions. A person/team/entity may serve as a participant in multiple submissions. Each submission should cover only one proposed solution per track.  If a participant has multiple distinct solutions (ideas, concepts) per track, they should describe them in separate submissions. 

 

Unfortunately, no.   This prize focuses on the collection, sorting, storing, and transporting of spent/discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling.  Technical processes to recover valuable components after the delivery of end-of-life batteries to recycling centers are beyond the scope of this particular competition.

The recording of the April 10, 2019 webinar at https://www.herox.com/BatteryRecyclingPrize/resource/335. The zip file contains the webinar recording, slides, and transcript.

Local governments are eligible to apply and win awards provided that they do not use federal funds to develop concepts and submission packages.

The aim of Track 1 Collection is to significantly increase the amount of batteries collected through distribution networks, collection points, incentivizing approaches, promotion, marketing, education, and many aspects of human behavior. Track 4 Reverse Logistics is for moving those collected batteries from collection sites to the recycling facilities in the most efficient, optimized, and cost-effective ways.

You may submit multiple submissions across multiple tracks.  Each submission should cover only one proposed solution per track.  If a participant has multiple distinct solutions (ideas, concepts) per track, they should describe them in separate submissions. 

As this is a prize, participants are free to use the funding they receive for any phase in this contest for anything they deem appropriate. 

Only one image can be uploaded in the HeroX submission form. However, if you have multiple images, you can include them as part of your 5-10-page proposal.

The rules specifically prohibit any lobbying activity, which would include advocacy for changes in legislation.

DOE/NREL staff cannot give feedback on individual team’s ideas while the competition is open as this could provide an unfair advantage to teams receiving such feedback.  DOE also reserves the right to place a submission in a separate track than identified by the participant. 

 

All teams must be comprised of otherwise eligible individuals or organizations who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

A template for the proposal can be found on the Resources page of the HeroX website. The rules require that proposals be submitted in PDF format. The Summary Slide in PowerPoint should be submitted in PDF format, too.

Previous winners of DOE grants for EV battery programs are eligible to receive these funds provided that previous federal funds are not used to develop and incubate concept submissions.

The Department of Energy's intent here is to motivate American innovators to develop and demonstrate profitable business and technology strategies to significantly increase collection of lithium-ion batteries.

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are only recycled at a rate of less than 5% in the U.S. The current recycling supply chain for collecting, sorting, storing, transporting, and recycling of lithium-ion batteries is limited, which is where the motivation for the prize came from.

The reviewers will be from industry, academia, relevant government agencies, local and state agencies, and other subject matter experts. Reviewers shall not have affiliation with the participants that will create a conflict of interest and will be required to sign conflict of interest and non-disclosure agreements. 

The prize focuses on the logistics before the actual recycling step, including the collection, sorting, storing, and transporting of spent/discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling. Technical processes to recover valuable components after the delivery of end-of-life batteries to recycling centers are beyond the scope of this project and will not be considered.

University students are encouraged to apply, either as an individual or as a university team! Please see page 19 and 20 of the Rules document for more information on eligibility, such as U.S. citizenship and permanent residency.

No, the main focus of this activity is collection and recycling of lithium-ion batteries. 

Participants may submit multiple submissions across multiple tracks.  Each submission should cover only one proposed solution per track.  If a participant has multiple distinct solutions (ideas, concepts) per track, they should describe them in separate submissions. 

Unfortunately, no. As authority to conduct this prize comes from a U.S. statute (15 U.S.C. 3719), the rules must comply with the eligibility requirements contained in the statute. Only U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are eligible to apply.  In the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. All business entities must be incorporated in the United States and conduct any work on the prize in the United States.

A sponsor is an entity that is not participating in developing an applicant’s solution but who can provide support to the applicant/participant in a number of ways, including, but not limited to: serving on the advisory board, providing letters of support for the proposal as there is value in the outcome of the proposed solution, indicating plan to partner during Phase II or III of the prize (if the applicant is a Phase I winner), or even providing (non-federal) in-kind or cash contributions. In your submission, you may provide information as to how a sponsor has been engaged in supporting your submission.

The maximum of ten pages for the proposal includes the following sections: Executive Summary, Team Composition and External Support, Market Validation and Analysis, Planned Execution and Allocation of Funds, and Detailed Technical Explanation. The cover sheet/page, bibliography, citations (references), and any letters of support from companies will not count toward the ten-page limit. (Please refer to pages 18-19 of the Official Rules Document).

Thank you for your question. To eliminate any apparent conflicting statements, the Competitor Agreement has been replaced with the Official Rules Document that describes the rules of the challenge.

A team leader can submit multiple submissions to one or more tracks on behalf of the team. This is allowed by the rules. To submit multiple submissions for a single team, follow this process:

  • Register on HeroX,
  • Create a team,
  • Click the Accept the Challenge button,
  • Enter a submission (input required information and upload supporting files),
  • Submit the submission,
  • Click on the option that allows you to preview your first submission (which allows for editing and changes to the submission if needed), then
  • From this screen you will see a button labeled “Begin Another Entry”  Click on this button to prepare and preview the additional second submission.

Please be sure that you submit your submissions. Teams may submit multiple submissions for the same track, with different ideas or concepts addressing that topic.

Participants can be a member/team leader on multiple teams, but they will have to create a new and separate HeroX user account, using a different email address, for each team they wish to participate on and/or lead. Unfortunately, HeroX will only allow a single user to participate on one team. If a user is added to a second team, that user will be removed from the original team they joined. We thank the participants for their understanding and diligence working within the software. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

See footnote number 10 on page 6 of the Rules. 90% recovery means 90% of individual batteries produced: out of 10 batteries produced, 9 are recovered and delivered to a recycler. This 90% applies to solutions for individual market sectors (consumer electronics, electric vehicles (EV), industrial, grid, etc.) as well. 

As indicated on page 18 of the Official Rules, the Team Composition and External Support section should provide information on individual member biographies, team experience and qualifications, external advisers (e.g., a board), or external sponsorship. The reason for the ten-page limit is for a more efficient review process given the size of the Phase I award (minimum of $40,000 per submission). The proposal should stand on its own and not on any external materials such as LinkedIn profiles or other URLs. Concise member biographies and entity profiles are expected in this section. 

The Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize is focused on identifying innovative solutions for collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting all spent and discarded lithium-ion batteries.  Ideas and prototypes focused on developing and producing new battery designs and chemistries are not within the scope of this Recycling Prize.

Today less than 5 percent of spent lithium-ion batteries are collected for recycling. The lithium ion battery prize is designed to bridge the gap to recovering and recycling 90% of all end-of-the-life lithium-ion batteries.  The goal of the prize is to incentivize American entrepreneurs (including existing companies involved in lithium-ion recycling logistics) to develop and demonstrate processes that, when scaled, have the potential to profitably capture 90% of all discarded or spent lithium-based batteries in the United States for eventual recovery of key materials for re-introduction into the U.S. supply chain.

Any solution that significantly increases the capture of lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling is of interest to the prize. Page 8 of the Rules indicates that “consumer awareness of both the ability and importance of proper LIB recycling is still somewhat low,” and  “limited infrastructure and awareness act as barriers to recycling efforts. Participants are encouraged to devise a system or systems to incentivize recycling: this can include development of infrastructure, or devising a new business model, among other strategies.”

The team leader is required to register, and encouraged to do so on behalf of the entire team, and submit a package. It is optional for other team members to register – each registered team member will be required to also sign and submit a user agreement. 

As indicated in FAQ # 40, any letters of support from companies will not count toward the ten-page limit. The letters of support could be included in the Full Submission Package (see Submission Proposal Template) and uploaded as PDF file format under Create Submission.

Evaluation Entities