American-Made Challenges


Ocean Observing Prize

Integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms, to revolutionize data collection needed to understand and map the ocean.
$3 million in total prizes

Challenge Overview

Ocean Observing Prize

The Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize challenges innovators to integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms, ultimately revolutionizing our ability to collect the data needed to understand, map, and monitor the ocean.

This joint prize between the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) at the U.S. Department of Energy and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) seeks to develop new technologies that can help fill the data gaps making it difficult to realize the full potential of the Blue Economy. The Ocean Observing Prize includes a series of competitions with millions of dollars in awards to encourage rapid innovation in the fields of marine energy and ocean observations, that began with the DISCOVER Competition and is followed by the DEVELOP Competition. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are supporting DOE and NOAA on the development and administration of the prize.





The Ocean Observing Prize consists of two competitions that are designed to incentivize accelerated innovation in marine energy and ocean observations. The first competition, the DISCOVER Competition, which is now closed, solicited novel concepts that integrate ocean observing technologies with marine energy systems to address end-user needs across five broad themes: (1) Unmanned Vehicles; (2) Communications and Underwater Navigation; (3) Extreme Environments; (4) Buoys, Floats, and Tags; and (5) Blue Sea Ideas (i.e., other). The second competition, the DEVELOP Competition, will focus on a single theme, Buoys and Autonomous Systems, with a focus on hurricane monitoring and challenge contestants to develop their ideas into a functioning prototype through three contests: the DESIGN Contest, BUILD Contest, and SPLASH Contest.





Together, the DISCOVER and DEVELOP Competitions will award up to $3 million in cash prizes, as well as other in-kind awards such as access to facilities, specialized equipment, and subject matter experts.



The purpose of this prize is to:

  • Enable collection of valuable new data. Proposed innovations should increase the spatial coverage, temporal resolution, and/or types of ocean and atmospheric variables that can be observed, collected, processed, and transmitted leading to improved understanding, monitoring, and management of the ocean.
  • Generate sufficient power from co-located marine resources. Solutions must be able to generate sufficient power to meet the energy needs of end users from the ocean observing community and prove the viability of marine energy to power ocean observations.
  • Accelerate commercialization of marine energy systems. Traditional development timelines of marine energy devices for the electrical grid can take many years to design, build, and test. By working at smaller scales and addressing ocean observing system energy needs, marine energy may find a faster path to commercialization.
  • Grow a diverse community of innovators. This prize will help bring new innovators into the marine energy and ocean observing space. It will also help form new partnerships and collaborations between industry, academia, and government to create innovative ocean observing technologies powered by marine energy.

For more information on the prize and the rules, please review the official Rules Document for instructions on the application process rules for competing.



Challenge Guidelines

Who can participate?

Please review the official Rules Document 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 message us directly.

If you’re not interested in competing but want to help with the Prize in other ways, please feel free to contact us.


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Challenge Updates

NOAA Central Library Ocean Observing Prize: Opening the DEVELOP Competition Webinar Recording Available

Oct. 26, 2020, 9 a.m. PDT by Libby Arnold

Hi Innovators, 

In case you missed the NOAA Central Library Ocean Observing Prize: Opening the DEVELOP Competition webinar, the recording is now available.

EERE experts gave an overview of the Powering the Blue Economy initiative, reviewed the DEVELOP Competition rules, and explored use cases for marine energy-powered ocean observing devices and functional requirements.

And don't forget to tune in for the two-part applicant webinar series and hear directly from organizers:

Register to participate, and as always, reach out to us on the forum with any questions. Good luck!

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team

The DEVELOP Competition and DESIGN Contest are Now Open! Register for the Upcoming Webinars

Oct. 22, 2020, 6 a.m. PDT by Libby Arnold

Hello Innovators,

Good news! The DEVELOP Competition and DESIGN Contest are now open! You can find the official rules document under the HeroX Resources tab.   

Tune in for the two-part applicant webinar series and hear directly from organizers:

Register to participate, and as always, email us at with questions or concerns.

Ocean Observing Prize DEVELOP Competition and DESIGN Contest Launch

Sept. 30, 2020, 2:14 p.m. PDT by Libby Arnold

Ocean Observing Prize Innovators,

The Ocean Observing Prize DEVELOP Competition and DESIGN Contest will be launching soon! We encourage you to stay up to date by checking the Ocean Observing Prize HeroX page. You can also follow our affiliated news sources: 

We are excited to get started and hope you are too! Stay tuned!

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team

Request for Feedback through July 10 on the DEVELOP Rules Workshop Summary

June 16, 2020, 4:16 a.m. PDT by Tessa Greco

The Ocean Observing Prize DEVELOP Competition will release a Final Rules Document that will provide participants with instructions and rules to participate in the DEVELOP Competition of the Ocean Observing Prize. Initial technical specifications and key questions were drafted by the prize team and shared with attendees during the DEVELOP Rules Workshop on May 27 and 28, 2020. This document is a compilation of questions and notes from the Workshop which are posted on the Ocean Observing Prize HeroX website to solicit public comment and feedback. DOE is collecting feedback on anything in the Rules Workshop Notes through July 10, 2020. Submissions should be sent to with the subject "Ocean Observing Prize Rules Workshop". Please reference the relevant line numbers from the DEVELOP Rules Workshop Summary and Notes document that relate to your comment.

Upcoming Webinar 6/11: Intellectual property (IP) and patent processes for innovators and startups

June 9, 2020, 9:16 a.m. PDT by Tessa Greco

Ocean Observing Prize Innovators,

Tune in to an upcoming webinar hosted by an American-Made Network Power Connector on Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 11am ET. More details and registration info is below.


Power Connector the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University is hosting an informational webinar on intellectual property (IP) and patent processes for innovators and startups. The webinar, From Idea to Invention to Intellectual Property: What Startups and Innovators Need to Know, is on Thursday, June 11, 2020, at 11 a.m. ET.

Tune in to hear about IP best practices from legal experts at the national law firm and Network member Babst Calland, as well as Scott Institute entrepreneur Jay Whitacre. This webinar is free and will also have a Q&A session. 

Register here to join:


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