American-Made Challenges

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Ocean Observing Prize

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

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 NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office 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. The prize 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.

 

 

PRIZE COMPETITIONS

The Ocean Observing Prize consists of two competitions 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 novel themes not listed). The second competition, the DEVELOP Competition, now ongoing, is centered on a single theme, Buoys and Autonomous Systems, with a focus on hurricane monitoring. The DEVELOP Competition challenges contestants to develop their ideas into a functioning prototype through three contests: the DESIGN Contest, BUILD Contest, and SPLASH Contest.

 

 

 

$3 MILLION IN CASH PRIZES AND IN-KIND AWARDS

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

 

PRIZE GOALS

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 observation systems.
  • 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.
Guidelines

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.

 

Timeline
Updates 23

Challenge Updates

DESIGN Contest Winner Announcement

March 24, 2021, 7:19 p.m. PDT by Libby Arnold

Hello innovators,

The Ocean Observing Prize team is hard at work reviewing your applications for the DESIGN Contest, and we are looking forward to announcing the winners in mid-April. Until then, stay up-to-date with our major announcements on the Water Power Technologies Office's Water Wire newsletter and the American-Made Challenges Twitter.

As always reach out with any questions, and we can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments as we move into the BUILD Contest. Stay tuned!

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Water Power Technologies Office Stakeholder Webinar

Feb. 23, 2021, 9 a.m. PST by Jenny Wiegele

Hi Innovators, 

Join the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office on March 1, from 3:30–5:00 p.m. ET, for the semiannual stakeholder webinar, where staff will discuss some of the most pressing changes affecting water power R&D in 2021. Led by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power and WPTO Director Alejandro Moreno, the webinar will feature program managers and technical leads from across WPTO. Program representatives will provide an update on the administration transition and FY21 budget, highlight recent announcements and publications, share project updates including prize milestones and awards, and discuss upcoming priorities. The presentation will close with Q&A.

This webinar is one of WPTO’s many efforts to improve transparency and engagement with stakeholders in the hydropower and marine energy industries. Register for the webinar and email questions ahead of time .

- The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Ocean Observing Prize Deadline: Extenuating Circumstances

Feb. 19, 2021, 11:34 a.m. PST by Jenny Wiegele

Ocean Observing Prize Innovators, 

Thank you all for your hard work in preparing your submissions for the DEVELOP Competition: DESIGN Contest. 

We have, however, received a few messages from some teams experiencing power outages and challenges accessing the internet in Texas. If your team is experiencing technical or access difficulties due to extreme weather in your area that inhibited your prize submission, please reach out to us at oceanobserving@nrel.gov. 

Let us know if you have any questions. 

- The Prize Administration Team 


Share your testing needs with PacWave and WPTO

Feb. 16, 2021, 11:26 a.m. PST by Jenny Wiegele

Ocean Observing Community, 

As you prepare your final submissions today, we wanted to pass on an opportunity to share your testing needs. 

The development of the PacWave open ocean wave energy test facility is proceeding rapidly and the South test site is scheduled to be operational in the Spring of 2023. 

To help prepare for the first round of testing and demonstration projects, the PacWave and PMEC teams have released an RFI to solicit information from the wave energy converter R&D community, the developers of related blue economy technologies, and other stakeholders. The information received will help the PacWave team understand how the facility can most effectively be used to meet the testing needs of the WEC community and to ensure testing opportunities are aligned with industry and stakeholder needs. We strongly encourage all wave energy converter technology stakeholders to respond to the RFI. 

The submission deadline is February 24, 2021, so get your submissions in soon!  https://bid.oregonstate.edu/opportunity/view/23794

- Ocean Observing Prize Team


The Modified Rules Document and Accompanying Delay Assessment are Now Available

Jan. 13, 2021, 9:37 a.m. PST by Libby Arnold

Please be advised that the DEVELOP Competition: Official Rules Document has been formally modified to include a new delay assessment submission. We ask that all potential contestants provide feedback on current and anticipated delays from COVID-19 in the DESIGN Contest Delay Assessment template, available under the Ocean Observing Prize HeroX Resources tab. Competition organizers will use your responses to guide the development of the prize schedule. Your answers will not be scored or considered in the review of your submission, but do note; this is a required element of your full submission package.

If there are still any outstanding questions on the DEVELOP Competition rules, please reach out to us on the forum.

- The Ocean Observing Prize Team


Forum 35
Teams 524
Entries
Resources
FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. You and your team may submit as many applications as you like, so long as each idea is innovative and materially different from the others you are submitting into the competition.  

The competition is open only to: (a) citizens or permanent residents of the United States; and (b) private or non-federal government entities, corporations, or other organizations that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States with majority domestic ownership and control. Individuals can compete alone or as a member of a group. A representative of a private entity can register the entity to compete, so long as an entity is legally formed under the laws of a state or the laws of the United States with majority domestic ownership and control. See Appendix A for more information on the eligibility requirements.

A waiver may be granted. See next question for details.

DOE employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, members of their immediate families (i.e., spouses, children, siblings, or parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in the Prize. Federal entities and federal employees, acting within the scope of their employment, are also not eligible to participate in any portion of the Prize. DOE national laboratory employees cannot compete in any stage of the Prize.

In keeping with the goal of growing a community of innovators, competitors are encouraged to form diverse, multidisciplinary teams while developing their submission. The HeroX platform provides a space where parties interested in collaboration can post information about themselves and learn about others who are also interested in competing in this contest.

Full details can be found in the Official Prize Rules: Appendix A for Eligibility and Appendix B for the waiver process.

These restrictions only apply to the authorized account holder, who would receive the prize funds, or the entity receiving the prize funds. The authorized account holder needs to match the primary applicant on the application. It is beyond the scope of DOE's concern whether eligible participants consult with other parties on this challenge or other matters. Any individual or organization that seeks to communicate with other parties interested in this prize is welcome to do so on the community page.

Reach out to us directly at with any questions on the waiver process or eligibility requirements. 

If an entity seeking to compete does not have domestic ownership and control, the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) may consider issuing a waiver of that eligibility requirement where the entity: submits a compelling justification; demonstrates the entity is incorporated in and maintains a primary place of business in the United States; and the entity otherwise meets the eligibility requirements. Entities seeking a waiver should include a justification along with their submission. EERE may require additional information before making a determination on the waiver request. There are no rights to appeal DOE’s decision on the waiver request.  See Appendix B for waiver details and instructions. 

If you are unsure, submit a waiver. Reach out to us directly with any questions on the waiver process or eligibility requirements. 

If you are unsure if you meet the requirements, submit a waiver. A firm definition for this requirement can be provided by the DOE legal team at

Entities seeking a waiver must demonstrate within the waiver to the satisfaction of EERE that its participation: (1) has a high likelihood of furthering the objectives of this prize competition and (2) aligns with the best interest of the U.S. 

This requirement applies only to the authorized account holder, who should also be listed as the primary applicant on the application. Partners beyond the authorized account holder are beyond DOE’s concern.

Submit your waiver as soon as possible. Waivers can be submitted during the application process, but to ensure your team is eligible to receive prize winnings, submit your waiver to before submitting your final application.

EERE cannot guarantee a response prior to the submission deadline with a determination, so submit your waiver early on to allow the team time to review your request. EERE may require additional information before making a determination on eligibility as well. A template for the waiver can be found in the Resources section.

Reach out to us directly at with any questions on the waiver process or eligibility requirements. 

No, this is a new stipulation. Regardless of your participation in the DISCOVER Competition, review the eligibility criteria to ensure the authorized account holder meets the requirements. Previous applicants to the DISCOVER Competition are not automatically eligible for the DEVELOP Competition. If you are unsure if the authorized account holder meets these requirements, submit a waiver. 

Reach out to us directly at  with any questions on the waiver process or eligibility requirements. 

Yes! Participation in the prior DISCOVER Competition is not required to compete in the DEVELOP Competition.

Department of Energy employees, employees of sponsoring organizations, members of their immediate families (i.e. spouses, children, siblings, or parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in this prize. Federal entities and federal employees, acting within the scope of their employment, are also not eligible to participate in any portion of this prize. DOE national laboratory employees cannot participate in any stage of the prize.

Please see the Official Prize Rules for more details. If you are interested in getting involved with the competition in a different capacity, we invite you to drop us a line!

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.

Final scores for each team will not be provided. General feedback may be shared with competition teams, but we do not anticipate providing feedback on why a submission is successful or unsuccessful. 

The Prize Administrator screens all completed submissions and, in consultation with DOE and NOAA, assigns subject matter expert reviewers to independently score the content of each submission. The reviewers will be composed of Federal and non-Federal subject matter experts with expertise in areas relevant to the competition. The Director of the DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office and the Director of NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System are the final judges of the competition and will make final award determinations. Subject matter expert reviewers’ scores and the interview findings (if applicable) will be taken into account by the final judges for award determinations.

There shall be no batteries or other energy storage devices except those specified in the competition rules apart from small primary batteries integrated into clocks/global positioning system (GPS)/memory assemblies. If there are any questions on whether a given battery is allowable, please email the prize administration team at .

Designs that require direct contact with the bottom of the tank or the seafloor are not within the scope of this prize.  If there are any questions on whether a given architecture is allowable, please email the prize administration team at

To qualify for the prize, designs must be capable of harvesting energy from the surrounding wave field.  If there are any questions on whether a given energy harvesting is allowable, please email the prize administration team at

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals.

The rules document details which parts of your submission will be made public. For the items that will not be made public, competitors who do not want the Technical Submission or other documents to be made public will need to mark them according to the instructions in Paragraph 10 of Appendix 1.

Yes! We encourage you to promote your concept to universities, labs, and other technical outlets.

The Powering the Blue Economy: Ocean Observing Prize is led by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Water Power Technologies Office in close coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Yes. The HeroX online platform allows you to enter the competition as an individual looking for a team and then asks for some basic information to help people find you and your concept. 

Please first refer to the ‘System Requirements & Required Components’ sections of the Rules & Requirement document available on the HeroX online platform.  If you can’t find the answer there, please post your question in the Forum for a public discourse.

Or, message us directly at .

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.

Or, message us directly at .