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.
DEVELOP Competition Announced
$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®) program at the National Oceanographic 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 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.


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Challenge Updates

PNNL Researchers to Serve as Reddit AMA Panel on the Blue Economy

May 12, 2020, 8:05 a.m. PDT by Jenny Wiegele

Hi Innovators, 

PNNL coastal researchers and engineers will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything panel on May 20 on the blue economy, covering some of the  top research being done in marine renewable energy, autonomous ocean vehicles, and commercial vessels and ports, to name a few.

Join us to ask your questions to the panel, including Angela Becker-Dippmann, Simon Geerlofs, David Hume, Andrea Copping, and Rob Cavagnaro, some of whom are members of the Ocean Observing Prize team.

This is a great opportunity to hear from some of the scientists and engineers at the Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL) in Sequim, Washington, who have expertise in exciting high-growth marine technologies, including wave and tidal energy, offshore wind, environmental monitoring instruments, and sustainable hydrogen and biofuel production from the ocean.

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team

Conduct on Forum and in Comments

April 3, 2020, 8:23 a.m. PDT by Jennifer Garson

Ocean Observing Prize community –

Thank you for continuing to engage with one another on this site, and we certainly encourage everyone to work together and with us to advance solutions to better understand our ocean!

However, as a reminder, per Appendix 1— Additional Terms and Conditions Section 1 of the Official Rules Document, you and your submissions “will be disqualified if they contain any matter that, in the sole discretion of DOE or the Prize Administrator, is indecent, obscene, defamatory, libelous, lacking in professionalism, or demonstrates a lack of respect for people or life on this planet.” This extends to any material posted in the Forum or other comments posted to this HeroX platform. We do monitor the Forum, and all other comments. We will also remove any material that falls underneath these categorization as well.

We hope you are all keeping safe during this time, and please stay engaged with the prize over the next few months while we work to prepare for the next stage of the prize.


Ocean Observing Prize Team

COVID-19 Update for the Ocean Observing Prize

March 23, 2020, 12:12 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

At EERE, we understand that due to the coronavirus outbreak, many of us have had to make adjustments to our business operations and practices in order to safeguard the health and safety of our communities. Due to the extraordinary circumstances in which we now find ourselves, EERE is reevaluating prize timelines. Further information coming soon.

All questions and answers related to this prize will be posted on the HeroX page at:

Thank you, competitors, for your continued efforts during this uncertain time. 

We hope that you and your loved ones are well and we look forward to hearing from you.

DISCOVER Competition Closes TODAY!

Feb. 12, 2020, 9 a.m. PST by Tessa Greco


Be sure to submit your concepts for the DISCOVER Competition TODAY, February 12, by 8:59pm PST. Should you have any questions or issues during the submission process please email

Best of luck!

The Ocean Observing Prize Team

Partnership Announcement

Jan. 22, 2020, 11:18 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Need a Partner?

There have been several inquiries regarding the need for a partner for the Ocean Observing DISCOVER Competition. If you are interested in finding a partner for your team, please email with the information listed within the Partnership Matching Template resource.  

The information includes:

  • Your HeroX name
  • Your contact Info (email/phone/message via HeroX)
  • I am looking for:
  • Your affiliation
  • Intended application of idea
  • Ocean resource being utilized
  • Brief description what you are looking for (<150 words)


Once this information is received the Prize Administration team will update the “Potential Partners” worksheet located in the Resources tab on the Ocean Observing Prize HeroX page. Updates to the worksheet will be made within one business day of your request. Keep watch as updates are made and feel free to reach out to anyone listed with your teaming inquiry.

As always, reach out with your questions, and good luck in these final weeks of preparation before the Wednesday, February 12 deadline.

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