American-Made Challenges


Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize Round 2

The Office of Technology Transitions EPIC Prize incentivizes incubators that implement high-impact ideas to support energy startups.

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Prove It! Winner Announcement
$4,000,000 Prize Pool

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The American-Made Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize recognizes the nation’s most innovative incubators. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), the EPIC Prize awards cash prizes to regional incubator teams that submit the most creative and impactful plans to develop strong clusters, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs. 

Technology startups often require more than just capital to launch, grow, and scale innovations. Regional incubators are crucial in providing entrepreneurs mentorship, technology validation, business development, connections to manufacturers, and more to strengthen the America’s clean energy future. The prize seeks to address a capital gap in supporting these critical organizations by providing funds to be applied where incubators need them most. Providing capital to enable creative, forward-thinking organizations is necessary to allow these groups to think more expansively about the role of incubators in the broader regional innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Core to the EPIC Prize Round 2 is the incubator program, which consists of three phases: 

  • Design It! 
  • Move It! 
  • Prove It! 

The Move It! and Prove It! phases will also include a pitch competition in which incubators can nominate local energy startups for a chance to win up to $50,000.


Please review the official rules  for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at .


Challenge Updates

Announcing EPIC Prize Round 2 Winners 🏆

Nov. 1, 2023, 12:27 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Congratulations to the four winners of the EPIC Prize Round 2! During the final phase, teams demonstrated that their plans were successful, and their programs could replicate and scale. Selected teams will take home a total of $500,000 for their impactful solutions that strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems, energy startups, and America’s clean energy future.  


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Join us in congratulating the EPIC Prize Round 2 winners! 

The Deployment Engine (Charleston, WV) – ADL Ventures is creating a low-carbon, mass deployment accelerator that connects innovative decarbonization technologies with construction industry customers and deployment opportunities in Appalachia.  

REACHing founders @ the Food, Energy & Water Nexus (Fort Collins, CO) – REACH's accelerator is dedicated to supporting founders at the nexus of food, water, and energy through innovative programming and embedded engineers-in-training (EITs). 

Energy & Mobility Innovation in Michigan (Hadley, MA and Detroit, MI) – Ascend by VentureWell bridges the gap between customer discovery and investment readiness in Detroit by focusing on emissions reductions, smart mobility technologies, infrastructure development, and job creation. 

LabStart: Accessibility to Lab IP Entrepreneurship (Golden, CO) – LabStart is helping launch and accelerate clean energy companies led by people from underrepresented communities and based on technology from DOE National Laboratories. 

You can find more information about the prize, winning teams, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions on

Read the full announcement on

Announcing EPIC Pitch Competition Winners!

July 18, 2023, 12:38 p.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Congratulations to the five winners of the second EPIC Prize Pitch Competition! Hosted in New Orleans at the DOE Small Business Forum and Expo, eight startups took to the stage to pitch their clean energy technologies to four industry experts and a diverse audience of investors, government officials, national labs, and small businesses.

Each startup was selected by competing incubators in the American-Made EPIC Prize, and five startups won over $160,000 for their groundbreaking technologies. 

Secretary of Jennifer M. Granholm delivered an inspiring speech and presented their checks, and the EPIC Prize incubator that nominated the first-place startup won $25,000. 

All competing startups each showcased impressive technologies that are driving sustainability forward in our nation. 

EPIC Pitch Competition Winners: 

Read the full press release on

Join Us for the Next EPIC Pitch Competition!

June 15, 2023, 8:52 a.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

We’re excited to invite you to the next EPIC Pitch Competition happening at DOE’s 2023 Small Business Forum & Expo on July 11-12 in New Orleans. Come out and support your fellow competitors as our eight nominated teams pitch their cutting-edge clean teach ideas to a panel of expert judges.

Connect with potential investors, network with other industry experts, and gain insight on the rapidly growing world of clean tech during one of the many breakout sessions. Plus, the Department of Energy’s Secretary Granholm will be there at the announcement of winners on Day 2!

Learn more about the event and register to attend here.

EPIC Pitch Competition Finalists Have Been Selected!

June 7, 2023, 8:36 a.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Nominated by contestants in the EPIC Prize, 8 teams have been selected to compete in the upcoming EPIC Pitch Competition July 11-12 at the Department of Energy Small Business Forum and Expo in New Orleans.

These eight teams are headed to the Big Easy to pitch their clean tech ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win the $100k grand prize:

Congratulations to our finalists! Cheer on the teams at the competition, and join Secretary Granholm on Day 2, where the winners will be announced! 

Register today for the Small Business Forum and Expo to attend:

Announcing EPIC Prize Round 2 Finalists!

April 17, 2023, 12:36 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Congratulations to the teams selected to move onto Phase 3 as EPIC Prize Round 2 finalists! These 10 incubators and accelerators will each be awarded $100,000 in cash prizes for implementing their high-impact ideas that are catalyzing place-based energy innovation. See below for the full list of finalist teams.

All Phase 2 participants will receive reviewers’ comments within the next few weeks. For those teams selected to move onto Phase 3, check your email for next steps. We will be sharing a registration link to the Phase 3 informational webinar soon. 

EPIC Prize Round 2 Finalists:

  • ADL Ventures (Charleston, WV)
  • Black and Veatch (Overland Park, KS)
  • Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (Stony Brook, NY)
  • VentureWell (Hadley, MA)
  • FORGE (Somerville, MA)
  • GPV Solutions (Austell, GA)
  • Positive Deviancy (Sterling, VA)
  • LabStart (Golden, CO)
  • REACH (Fort Collins, CO)
  • Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (Los Angeles, CA)

You can find more information about the prize, semifinalist teams, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions on

Read the full press release on 

Congratulations again!


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Solve this 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.

You can also send an email to .

OTT welcomes incubator organizations that aid in the development of new business ventures, business accelerators, co-working start-up communities, or any other organizations that self-identify as advocates for innovation and entrepreneurship to compete in EPIC. The competition is open to private organizations (for-profits and nonprofits), nonfederal government entities (such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities), and academic institutions that meet all eligibility requirements. For more information, review the official prize rules.

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.

See who is in the network.

Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in the Solar Prize. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.

Power Connector organizations are a core group of Connectors that will work alongside NREL to implement parts of the program and secure additional resources and partners.

Discover who they are and how they will help innovators succeed.

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  .

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response.

All of your files are uploaded as part of the submission form, access this by clicking the Begin Entry button.  The submission form contains an upload option for each of the required file entries.  Only PDF files will be accepted for upload.

New programming at an established incubator is considered Track 2 – Established Incubator. However, competitors should apply to Track 1 – New Location or Emerging Incubators if they are opening an incubator in a new location - defined as being in a different state from your existing locations.

We recognize that each incubator operates differently and offers different programming. “Supporting 30 or more start-ups” means providing some sort of direct programming, mentoring and commercialization assistance, hosting regular networking opportunities for start-ups, 1:1 consulting, or offering in-kind services to these organizations.

Refer to the criteria on page 13 of which track organizations should apply to. Two of the following statements must be true for an incubator to be considered established:

  • Has been incorporated for 5 or more years
  • Has provided support to 30 or more start-ups
  • Has seen more than $1.5 million in third-party investment flow through the organization in support of start-ups
  • Has companies in its portfolio that have reached a combined total of over $100 million in third-party investment.

Yes – organizations that have or are expecting to receive DOE funding can apply for the EPIC Prize, as long as their EPIC Prize concept is new or different from their existing funding. 

New programming is defined as a new offering to your current clientele or a current offering targeting a new clientele group. Competitors must submit a plan for an activity currently not conducted at the incubator.

Competitors may define their region. This can be within one county, state, multi-state, etc. You are the expert on the needs of your area. 

No. Competitors may define “start-up” or “energy entrepreneurs or innovators” in whatever way makes contextual sense for their organization.

No. Your organization can support a variety of stakeholders. However, the minimum viable program proposed through the EPIC Prize should focus on supporting energy entrepreneurs.

For this Bonus Prize, WPTO seeks to support activities that enable economic development, entrepreneurial ventures, and job growth in water power and/or the blue economy. Details about the requirements for each Bonus Prize are found in Appendix 3: Core Incubator Bonus Prizes.

Yes. Winners of Design It! and Bonus Prize winners are all eligible to move forward to the Move It! phase. 

Prizes are awarded for the work completed prior to the submission deadline. In this case, $50,000 is awarded at the end of the first phase (Design It!) for the development of the plan for the minimum viable program. Ideally, competitors should be able to leverage other resources to implement their minimum viable program over the Move It! and Prove It! phases. Additionally, the EPIC prize specifically asks for a minimum viable program, leaving the competitor to identify what “MVP” is achievable in their context.