American-Made Challenges

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Ocean Observing Prize

Ocean Observing Prize

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

Challenge Overview

Ocean Observing Prize

The Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize challenges innovators to develop solutions that integrate marine renewable energy with ocean observation platforms in order to revolutionize our ability to monitor, manage, and understand the ocean.

The Powering the Blue Economy Initiative is a new R&D effort being led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) to investigate alternative non-grid applications for marine energy.  This joint prize between WPTO and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) program at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) seeks to encourage energy innovation in ocean observation technologies. The Ocean Observing Prize will consist of a series of competitions over several years to develop marine energy solutions that meet the needs of ocean researchers, agencies, explorers, and other end-users in the ocean observing community. The development and execution of the Prize will be supported by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

 

PRIZE COMPETITIONS

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, will solicit 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). After the DISCOVER Competition, the second competition, the DEVELOP Competition, will focus on a single theme and challenge contestants to develop their ideas into a functioning prototype. 
 

 

$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 other 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.
  • Generate sufficient power from co-located marine resources.
  • Accelerate commercialization of marine energy systems.
  • Grow a community of innovators.

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

 

Guidelines
Timeline
Updates 1
Forum 5
Community 125
Resources
FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Please limit your submission to one theme. 

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 public entities, such as townships, tribes, corporations, or other organizations that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. 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. Individuals working under that entity may participate regardless of immigration status.

These restrictions apply to the entity receiving the prize funds.  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.

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 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.

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.

Unfortunately, employees of a DOE national laboratory are not allowed to compete in any prize contest in this program.  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. 

Concepts must receive a substantial portion of the overall energy budget from one of the following marine energy resources: wave, tidal or ocean current, thermal, or salinity gradients.  Other renewable energy technologies such as solar or wind may be incorporated into the design as appropriate so long as the above conditions are met.

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.

Yes, energy storage systems are allowed in your idea, however your idea must receive a substantial portion of its overall energy budget from one of the following marine energy resources: wave, tidal or ocean current, thermal, or salinity gradients. 

There are five themes within the DISCOVER Competition and up to eleven awards. There will be one overall winner across all the themes based on the highest average score and final judge determination.  There will be up to ten smaller awards for high-scoring submissions across all the themes. Some themes may have multiple winners while others none.  

Please see the Official Prize Rules for more details.

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

In the rules document, it 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, there will be a second competition called the DEVELOP Competition which will begin after the DISCOVER Competition concludes.  The DEVELOP Competition will focus on one or two thematic areas similar to those presented in the DISCOVER Competition and challenge contestants to design and build their concepts. 

The DEVELOP Competition is intended to be a recurring prize competition that will use different themes for subsequent iterations of the competition.  If your concept is not relevant to the first iteration of the DEVELOP Competition we encourage you to continue to refine your concept in preparation for later rounds when your theme might be selected.

No. By applying or winning the DISCOVER Competition you are not automatically entered into the DEVELOP Competition, you will have to reapply.

The theme of the DEVELOP Competition within the Ocean Observing Prize will be announced at a later date.  The theme or themes will be selected based partially on the ideas that are submitted into the DISCOVER Competition; we will use concepts submitted to help us determine application spaces that would most benefit from new solutions.

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.  

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