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.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed


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.



Challenge Guidelines

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

If you want to subscribe to updates on the prize or have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or .

We’re also looking for ideas on how to best structure this contest to attract ground-breaking solutions that will support the marine energy and desalination industries. If you’re not interested in competing but want to help develop and judge the prize, .

Updates 6

Challenge Updates

Join DOE for a Lab Partnering Service (LPS) Demo on 3/23

March 5, 2021, 7:06 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

The Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) will host a webinar on March 23, 2021 to demonstrate its Lab Partnering Service (LPS)—the premier tool to connect your entrepreneurs and businesses with National Lab resources—as well as answer related questions you may have.

OTT’s Lab Partnering Service (LPS) offers unprecedented access to the world’s most advanced scientific facilities and researchers across the Department’s National Lab complex. LPS provides investors, entrepreneurs—and other parties looking to advance energy innovation—a single online platform to connect with leading experts to quickly answer innovation questions and discover opportunities for building partnerships. Visitors can easily search hundreds of technologies, experts, facilities, success stories, and thousands of patents tailored to their individual needs.

The webinar will be held on March 23, 2021 at 1 p.m. ET. 

 Register here:

 Thanks, and we hope to see you at the event!


Congratulations EPIC Prize Winners!

Oct. 7, 2020, 9:55 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Congratulations to our 20 EPIC Prize winners! We received many competitive submissions, making the selection process very difficult. Check out the great ideas we saw come in during the competition. Teams who applied for the prize should expect to receive a follow-up email soon with additional information. 


Arrowhead Center, Las Cruces, New Mexico

  • Clean Energy Innovation Cluster & Accelerator

Austin Technology Incubator, Austin, Texas

  • EMPOWER - Science to Startups

BRITE Energy Innovators, Warren, Ohio

  • Energy Storage Innovation Ecosystem

Cascadia Cleantech Accelerator, Portland, Oregon

  • The Cleantech Connectors for the PNW ecosystem

Centrepolis Accelerator, Southfield, Michigan

  • Michigan CleanTech Hardware Accelerator

Elemental Excelerator, Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Elemental Excelerator

Expanding Frontiers, Brownsville, Texas

  • Hub for Space and Energy Startups in South Texas

Exponential Impact, Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Energy Entrepreneurship in Southern Colorado

FORGE Manufacturing Initiative, Somerville, Massachusetts

  • FORGE Innovative Manufacturing Cluster

Greentown Labs Houston, Houston, Texas

  • Building a Cleantech Cluster In Greater Houston

KeyLogic Initiative: U.S. Research Impact Alliance, Morgantown, West Virginia

  • KeyLogic Initiative: US Research Impact Alliance

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator Unlocking Innovation Team, Los Angeles, California       

  • LACI is Expanding Clean Energy Startup Innovation

mHUB Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

  • mHUB Chicago: Nation's Largest Hardware Lab

Mississippi Development Authority V-QUAD, Jackson, Mississippi      

  • The Mississippi Virtual-Quad

The Combine Incubator, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • The Combine Incubator

The Spark Innovation Center at UT Research Park, Knoxville, Tennessee

  • Spark Innovation Center at UT Research Park

The WY RANCH, Sheridan, Wyoming

  • The WY RANCH

Trailhead Boise, Boise, Idaho         

  • CleanTech Incubator for Energy Related Technologies

Urban Future Lab, Brooklyn, New York   

  • Urban Future Lab Northeast Cleantech Hub Growth

Water, Energy and Technology Center Team, Fresno, California         

  • Bolstering Success for Energy Startups

Whether you were selected or not, we encourage you to stay engaged with the American-Made Challenges and the American-Made Network to learn about future prize-related opportunities. 

Thank you again, and congrats to our EPIC Prize winners!

-EPIC Prize Administration Team

Reminder: Submission Deadline for the EPIC Prize is Tomorrow at 5pm EST

Sept. 9, 2020, 8 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Tomorrow at 5 p.m. EST is the deadline to submit entries to the EPIC Prize competition. Our portal will close at 5 p.m. sharp, so please be sure to submit all prize materials early.

We look forward to reviewing all your entries! Award notifications will be announced after Sept. 30.

The official guidelines are posted here:

Please reach out to us if you have any questions on the HeroX platform or directly at . We encourage you to submit your application early, however if you experience technical difficulties with your submission and/or HeroX, please send us an email at before  the 5pm deadline. 

Thank you for all your hard work, and good luck!

Six Days to the EPIC Prize Submission Deadline!

Sept. 4, 2020, 1:07 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Hello Incubators and Cleantech Community:

We have six days left in the official EPIC Prize timeline! Are your slides and videos ready?

All prize competition materials must be submitted by 5 p.m. ET. The portal will close promptly at 5 p.m. If you experience any technical difficulty when submitting, questions or technical difficulties, please reach out to us directly at

Please see the official guidelines for more information:

Thank you for all your hard work, and good luck!

Happening Today: Informational EPIC Prize Webinar at 12pm ET

Aug. 4, 2020, 7:55 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Hi Innovators,

Join the kickoff webinar today to find out how to participate in Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize.

Today’s the day to find out more about the prize, outline some best practices for applying, and answer any of your questions about the rules. 

The prize seeks to address a capital gap in supporting these critical organizations by providing funds to be applied where incubators need them most.

There are still spots available. You can Register today:


-The EPIC  Prize Administration Team

Forum 10
Teams 372

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.