The Direct Air Capture (DAC) Pre-Commercial Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize awards up to $3.7 million in cash prizes to incubator teams that submit creative and impactful plans to support entrepreneurs and innovators in the DAC space and create meaningful community engagement. It aims to support both emerging and established direct air capture incubators and accelerators in implementing those plans to develop strong clusters, resources, and connections for energy startups and entrepreneurs.
Accelerating Just and Sustainable Carbon Management Solutions
The DAC Pre-Commercial EPIC Prize (DAC EPIC Prize) is part of a suite of interconnected competitions in the American-Made DAC Prize program. Understanding that there are several steps to move from an idea to a marketable product, the DAC Prizes are a suite of prizes that work together to advance carbon dioxide removal technologies and the incubators that make this process possible.
Incubators play a critical role in helping transition direct air capture technologies from an idea to a marketable product, through design support, connections with industry resources, business strategy assistance, and much more. The DAC EPIC Prize supports solutions that have the potential to accelerate regional economic development, strengthen national innovation capacity, and expand domestic carbon removal manufacturing and technology development.
Who Can Compete?
Incubator organizations and programs that aid in the development of new business ventures, business accelerators, co-working startup communities, or any other organizations that self-identify as advocates for innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged to compete.
The DAC EPIC Prize follows the structure of the original EPIC Prize, created by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions, but applies a carbon capture focus to the competition. Teams win increasingly larger prizes as they make the most progress and impact over the course of three phases: Think It, Move It, and Prove It.
Competitors in this phase design an impactful, novel plan that focuses on the program requirements. The plan should address:
The framework for meeting program requirements and what support gaps it addresses
How the team will recruit and enable entrepreneurs and innovators to launch and improve direct air technology businesses
Proposed metrics to evaluate its success, and more.
Only winners of Think It are eligible to compete in Move It. Teams move their solutions forward by demonstrating momentum for implementation, including:
Progress toward implementation
Recruiting entrepreneurs and innovators
Building a support and resource network
Collecting metrics to measure success.
Only winners of Move It are eligible to compete in Prove It. Competitors prove the success of solution implementation, including:
Metrics and documentation that demonstrate success
A plan to drive long-term growth
A strategy for sustained commercialization and support.
Please review the official rulesfor the complete application process and instructions for competing.
If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, follow this HeroX page, , or email prize administrators directly at .
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, the DAC Prizes suite is supported by the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learn more about the DAC Prizes.
The official rules for Phase 1: Think It of the DAC Pre-Commercial EPIC Prize have been modified, including clarifications to number of semifinalist teams and added eligibility and appendix details. All modifications can be see in a list on page 2 of the rules document. Modifications are also highlighted in yellow in the document and can be referenced by individual page number included below.
Pages 8, 15: Number of semifinalist teams selected in Phase 1: Think It changed from twelve (12) to thirteen (13)
Pages 13-14: Added details to Eligibility section
Page 36: Added details to Appendix 1: Additional Terms and Conditions
The semifinalists, representing 10 states, will each receive $100,000 in cash prizes for their winning concepts in the initial Think It Phase of the prize.
Congratulations to our semifinalist teams:
Activate Global, Inc., Berkeley, California
LabStart Innovations Inc., Boulder, Colorado
Airminers, San Mateo, California
Black & Veatch; IgniteX DAC Accelerator, Overland Park, Kansas
Newlab and Yale Carbon Containment Lab, Brooklyn, New York
The University of Arizona Center for Innovation, Tucson, Arizona
Tribuquent; TerraDAC Project, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Carbon 2 Value Initiative; Greentown Labs, Urban Future Labs, Fraunhofer USA, Houston, Texas
Columbia University; Carbontech Development Initiative, New York City, New York
Expanding Frontiers, Brownsville, Texas
Radicle Development Center, Malvern, Pennsylvania
Cleantech Open Northeast, Somerville, Massachusetts
gener8tor DAC Accelerator, Chicago, Illinois
The semifinalist teams will move on to the Move It Phase, where up to five finalists will each win $300,000 and move on to compete for a grand prize of $750,000 or a runner-up prize of $250,000.
The DAC EPIC Prize is part of the American-Made DAC Prizes, a suite of separate but connected prizes that were developed to address the numerous steps involved in moving an innovation from idea to market.
Read more about the semifinalists and learn about the DAC EPIC Prize competition on energy.gov.
As a reminder, Think It teams should address the following in their submissions:
The framework for you/your team’s program, including proposed development and execution timelines
How you will address the program requirements
How you will implement your solution during the competition period of the DAC EPIC Prize
How you will create a strong pipeline to recruit entrepreneurs and innovators into your program
How the skills and expertise of your team will enable entrepreneurs and innovators to launch or improve their businesses
Proposed metrics and leading indicators to evaluate your solution’s success
The novelty of the curriculum and incubation services being designed and developed to support the DAC industry gap the program will address.
We highly encourage submitting before the deadline to avoid any technical difficulties. Anyone interested is encouraged to apply. Be sure to view the Official Rules before submitting to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria and understand the requirements of the submission materials.
If you have any questions about the prize requirements or regarding your specific submission, please contact the prize administrators at .
NOTE: This deadline is specifically for the DAC Pre-Commercial EPIC Prize.ONLY DAC EPIC Prize applications should be submitted to this HeroX page.*