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.

This challenge is closed

$4,000,000 Prize Pool

This challenge is closed


The 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, then implement those 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. 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 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 Finalists!

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

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!

EPIC Prize Official Rules - Now Updated!

April 10, 2023, 10:12 a.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The official rules now include…

  • The downselect process for the Prove It!: Core Start-Up Pitch Competition
  • The prize money for the Prove It Core Start-Up Pitch Competition
  • Eligibility and participation details to the Prove It!: Core Start-Up Pitch Competition
  • the Solar Energy Technologies Office Start-Up Pitch Competition Bonus Prize (Appendix 4)

Access the updated rules here and in the resources tab!

You’re Invited to the EPIC Pitch Competition

Feb. 23, 2023, 3:46 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Get a front seat to innovation at the most epic cleantech pitch competition of the year! On March 30, 2023, the EPIC Showcase will feature 24 leading cleantech start-ups, hand-selected by the nation’s most innovative incubators. 

Through the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize, the DOE Office of Technology Transitions, in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has recognized 24 incubators across the country playing a key role in supporting regional energy innovation clusters. OTT supports technology commercialization and drives the private sector uptake of clean energy technologies to advance the economic, energy, and national security interests of the nation.

These award-winning incubators are nominating startups from their networks to compete for over $150,000 in prizes at a virtual pitch competition on March 30, 2023, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET. Come and go as you can. 

Register for the event here:

EPIC Prize Round 2 Semifinalists Announced!

Dec. 6, 2022, 9:02 a.m. PST by NREL

Congratulations to the 24 teams advancing to Phase 2 as EPIC Prize Round 2 semifinalists. See below for the full list of semifinalist teams representing a wide range of technology focus areas including the built environment, storage, food security, manufacturing, solar, workforce training, the blue economy, carbon reduction, and more. 

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

All Phase 1 participants will receive reviewers’ comments within the next few weeks. For those teams selected to move on to Phase 2, check your email for your next steps and please register for the Phase 2 Informational Webinar

EPIC Prize Round 2 Semifinalists

New & Emerging 

  • GPV Solutions (Austell, Ga.) 
  • BlueSwell  (Cambridge, Mass.) 
  • ClimateHaven (New Haven, Conn.) 
  • IoT Conduit (Burlington, Vt.) 
  • Imani Works (Chicago, Ill.) 
  • LabStart (Golden, Colo.) 
  • ADL Ventures (Charleston, W.Va.) 
  • Positive Deviancy (Sterling, Va.) 
  • REACH (Fort Collins, Colo.) 
  • Northwest Xcelerator (Portland, Ore.) 


  • Black and Veatch (Overland Park, Kan.) 
  • Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (Stony Brook, N.Y.) 
  • Braid Theory (San Pedro, Calif.) 
  • VentureWell/TechTown Detroit (Hadley, Mass. and Detroit, Mich.) 
  • FORGE (Somerville, Mass.) 
  • The Koffman Incubator (Binghamton, N.Y.) 
  • Grid Catalyst (Minneapolis, Minn.) 
  • The Arrowhead Center (La Cruces, N.M.) 
  • Evergreen Climate Innovations  (Chicago, Ill.).
  • Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (Los Angeles, Calif.) 

Bonus Prize Winners 

Today: EPIC Prize Round 2 Submissions Due by 5 p.m. ET!

Oct. 25, 2022, 10:11 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Incubators: Make sure your Design It! submissions are uploaded no later than 5 p.m. ET today!

 As a reminder, here’s what you need to submit: 

  • Video (public)
  • Cover page content
  • Core narrative (not to exceed 2,500 words)
  • One summary PowerPoint slide (public)
  • Letters of commitment or support (optional).

Make sure you review the rules carefully and use the submission template to complete your entry. Submissions must be in by 5 p.m. ET and we will not accept late submissions. We highly recommend uploading your submission as early as possible to avoid connectivity issues or upload delays. 

Good luck!


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.