American-Made Challenges


Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize Round 3

The Office of Technology Transitions EPIC Round 3 incentivizes incubators that implement high-impact ideas to support energy startups.

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Judging Closed

This challenge is closed



EPIC Round 3 

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), EPIC Round 3 is a $4 million competitive funding program for the nation’s most innovative incubators supporting energy startups. EPIC Round 3 awards cash prizes and a three-year cooperative agreement to regional incubator teams that submit the most creative and impactful plans, then implement those plans to develop strong programming, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs. 

Technology startups require more than capital to launch, grow, and scale their innovations. Incubators provide the mentorship, technology validation, business development, connections to manufacturers, and other resources that are critical to a startup’s success. The prize seeks to address a capital gap in supporting these incubators by providing both short-term financial gains through a prize competition and a multi-year, stable funding program to be applied where domestic incubators need it most. 

The new approach to EPIC—combining a prize competition with a cooperative agreement negotiation with OTT—encourages bold and impactful ideas, while providing incubators with the long-term funding needed to scale those ideas. Together with OTT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who manages EPIC Round 3, these incubators will strengthen the small business ecosystem in the United States and advance our clean energy future.  

Program Structure

EPIC Round 3 is composed of three phases to support energy incubators and accelerators: 

Phase 1: Competitors will create a plan to support energy startups and entrepreneurs and define their metrics for success. Up to 20 competitors will win $150,000 each. 

Phase 2: Phase 1 finalists will begin to implement their novel programming and create a continuation plan worthy of selection for a cooperative agreement. Select Phase 2 winners will then be invited to negotiate a cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million. 

Phase 3: Winning teams will negotiate their three-year cooperative agreement with OTT. 

Phase 2 will include two pitch competitions in which all past and present EPIC incubators can nominate energy startups for a chance to win the $100,000 grand prize. 

Competitor Eligibility

OTT welcomes incubator organizations that aid in the development of new business ventures, including incubators, accelerators, co-working startup communities, or any other organizations that self-identify as advocates for innovation and entrepreneurship. We encourage these organizations, including organizations that have competed in prior rounds of the EPIC Prize, to compete in EPIC Round 3. 

This funding program is open to private entities (for-profits and nonprofits) and academic institutions that meet all eligibility requirements.  

  • Private entities must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. 
  • Programming proposed by incubators must have an emphasis on supporting startups with a hard-tech focus.  
  • While National Laboratories are not eligible to compete, they may support teams in the competition if they are engaging the teams in compliance with lab partnership requirements.  

For more eligibility information, review the official prize rules.


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

Finalists for EPIC Pitch Competition in Minneapolis Have Been Selected!

May 10, 2024, 2:32 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Six clean tech startups nominated by past EPIC winners have been selected as finalists to compete in the upcoming EPIC Pitch Competition in Minneapolis, MN! These teams will face off on June 4 at the Department of Energy Small Business Forum & Expo in Minneapolis for a chance to win the $100k grand prize! Winners will be announced live at the conference on June 5. 

Congratulations and good luck to the finalists:  

Join us at the competition to cheer on these teams and see who will take home the top prize!   


Register today for the Small Business Forum & Expo to attend the Purple Pitch: 


The official prize rules have been modified to reflect live pitch timing changes and updated finalist benefit information.   

Don’t Miss the OTT EPIC Pitch Competition at DOE’s 2024 Small Business Forum & Expo!

April 29, 2024, 8:39 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The next EPIC Pitch Competition is just 5 weeks away!  

Join us on June 4-5 for the OTT EPIC Pitch Competition, AKA Purple Pitch in Minneapolis, at the 2024 DOE Small Business Forum & Expo.  

Six cutting-edge clean tech startups, nominated by EPIC winners, will compete for cash prizes up to $100,000! Get a front row seat as competitors pitch their innovative ideas for clean energy technologies to a panel of expert judges.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization will host the two-day expo, which will also include informative keynotes from top administration officials, one-on-one matchmaking sessions, breakout sessions led by industry leaders, and an exhibit hall with over 100 exhibitors and supporters.   

Register for the 2024 DOE Small Business Forum & Expo to be part of the action.

EPIC Prize Official Rules - Updated!

April 23, 2024, 9:35 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

The EPIC Prize rules have been updated to reflect an increase to the  EPIC Pitch Competition #1 (Summer Pitch Competition) "Finalist" awards.  

Per the official rules, conference registration is required for all  "Finalist" team members attending the DOE Small Business Forum and Expo. Each startup finalist invited to live pitch at the DOE Small Business Forum will receive a $2,320 “Finalist” cash prize.


EPIC Prize Official Rules - Now Updated!

April 12, 2024, 1:58 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

The EPIC Pitch events are so impactful and fun that the official prize rules have been updated to include a 3rd EPIC pitch competition!

  • ONLY EPIC Round 1 FOA awardees will be able to nominate startups for pitch competition #3.
  • The pitch event will be held at the Office of Technology Transitions EPIC FOA event in Washington, DC on May 9, 2024.
  • Additional nomination details will be sent out shortly from DOE OTT to EPIC Round 1 FOA awardees!

You can access the updated rules under the EPIC Prize Resources tab.

Announcing EPIC Round 3 Phase 1 Winners

April 2, 2024, 11:20 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Congratulations to the 23 EPIC Round 3 Phase 1 winners who will now advance to compete in the next round of the funding program!  

These incubators and accelerators demonstrated a dedication to clean energy entrepreneurship, and each received $150,000 for their efforts to support energy startups and entrepreneurs in their communities.  


Phase 1 Winners  

Phase 1 winners come from across the U.S. and its territories, representing a wide range of regions and energy tech industries.  


The EPIC Round 3 Phase 1 winners are:  

  •    AirMiners (San Francisco, CA)  
  •    Alpha-X (Alpharetta, GA)  
  •    Arrowhead Center and New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)  
  •    Black & Veatch IgniteX Accelerator (Overland Park, KS)  
  •    BRITE Energy Innovators (Warren, OH)  
  •    Carbon and Hydrogen Innovation and Learning Incubator (Houston, TX)  
  •    Cascadia Cleantech Accelerator (Portland, OR)  
  •    Centrepolis Accelerator and NexCorps Accelerator (Southfield, MI & Rochester, NY)  
  •    ClimateHaven (New Haven, CT)  
  •    Dominion Energy Innovation Center (Ashland, VA)  
  • (Pittsburg, PA)
  •    Elemental Excelerator (Honolulu, HI)  
  •    FusionForge (Fort Collins, CO)  
  •    Home Energy Efficiency Team (Boston, MA)  
  •    Launch Alaska (Anchorage, AK)
  •    mHUB (Chicago, IL)  
  •    Missouri Innovation Center (Columbia, MO)  
  •    Newlab (Brooklyn, NY)  
  •    Parallel18 (San Juan, Puerto Rico)  
  •    Spark Innovation Center (Knoxville, TN)  
  •    Terra EPIC (Tulsa, OK)  
  •    U.S. Research Impact Alliance Corp (Morgantown, WV)  
  •    Urban Future Lab (Brooklyn, NY)  

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

Read the full announcement on