American-Made Challenges


Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize

Create impactful plans to develop strong connections and support for entrepreneurs whose businesses focus on energy technologies.

Challenge Overview

The American-Made Challenges’ Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize recognizes the nation’s most innovative incubators. Sponsored by the Office of Technology Transitions at the U.S. Department of Energy, EPIC will award prizes to competitors that submit the most creative and impactful plans to develop strong clusters, connections, and support for startups and entrepreneurs whose businesses focus on energy-related technologies. 

Part of the American-Made Challenges series, the EPIC Prize asks incubators to develop strategic plans to create or bolster innovation clusters supporting startups and entrepreneurs whose businesses focus on energy-related technologies. The prize emphasizes regional engagement, including with private actors—both for- and non-profit—as well as state and local entities that can provide additional resources.

Incubators are critical to the growth of an innovation ecosystem; they help startups and entrepreneurs accelerate the launch, growth, and scale of their businesses, ultimately resulting in the development of jobs in the United States. 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 critical to allow these groups to think more expansively about the role of incubators in the broader regional innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moreover, it is DOE’s hope that this funding will enable prize winners to enhance their organization’s resilience and operational sustainability.


Competitors will create presentation slides describing their strategic plan for regional cluster development. The plan should focus on how the incubator will develop relationships with regional entities to form innovation clusters, and the impact such a plan may have on the industry. Competitors must also submit a short marketing video that may be used when announcing winners. Up to 20 winning teams will be awarded $50,000 each.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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. Otherwise, please email us at:

The target audience for this prize is U.S.-based business incubation/accelerator services—including, but not limited to entities that provide mentoring, entrepreneurial training, and access to testing and prototyping assistance. 

The EPIC prize seeks to recognize the most novel, comprehensive, and impactful incubator plans that focus on developing strong innovation clusters, connections, and support for energy-related technology and entrepreneurial innovation.

Organizations with existing programming, are encouraged to apply to the prize with plans for how to further develop their existing programing to extend and amplify their reach. 

All submissions will be scored according to the criteria in the official rules document found on pages 10 – 11. 

Federal entities and federal employees acting within the scope of their employment are not eligible to participate in the prize. 

DOE National Laboratory employees are also ineligible. However, they can act as non-competitor advisors.   

A prize is one mechanism the Department of Energy uses to award funding. If you win the competition, you receive prize funding for the work you completed in your submission. Unlike a grant, the prize is a straight cash award to your organization. No follow up metrics or budget reporting is required.

Private entities (for-profits and nonprofits), non-federal government entities such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities, and academic institutions are eligible to enter this prize. Eligible entities can compete alone or as a group. We advise all participants to review the official rules document for full eligibility requirements.  

Prize awards will not be paid to individuals directly.

No organization may submit as the lead entity on more than one entry to the prize. If an entity is the lead organization on multiple submissions, DOE will accept the most recent submission submitted before the deadline and determine prior submissions ineligible. Organizations may act as contributing team members on more than one entry. 

Submissions should be non-duplicative of work that has been previously funded by DOE or another government agency.

The Prize Administrator will award a single dollar amount to the designated primary Competitor (also referred to as the lead entity or team captain). Prize awards will not be paid to individuals directly. The primary Competitor is solely responsible for allocating any prize funds among its team members and/or allocating the funds for operational use. The primary Competitor entity is also responsible for all associated taxes.