American-Made Challenges

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.
Submission Deadline
$3 million in total prizes

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.



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. 



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.
  • 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.



Challenge Timeline

Sept. 16, 2019, 8 a.m. PDT
Challenge Announced
Nov. 14, 2019, 11 a.m. PST
DISCOVER Competition open for submissions
Nov. 14, 2019, 11:11 a.m. PST
Date Launched
Feb. 12, 2020, 8:59 p.m. PST
Submission Deadline
DISCOVER Competition submission deadline
March 29, 2020, 8:39 a.m. PDT
You are here
April 1, 2020, 11 p.m. PDT
DISCOVER Competition winners announced
(anticipated date, subject to change)
Updates 6
Forum 16
Community 317