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.
$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.


Updates 4

Challenge Updates

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.

Ocean Observing DISCOVER Competition Webinar Now Available

Jan. 2, 2020, 10:58 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Hi Innovators, 

If you missed the introductory webinar on the DISCOVER Competition, check out the recording that’s now live:

We provided context for the prize, an overview of the requirements, and answered some common questions posed by competitors. 

If you still have questions on the prize, just reach out to us on the forum. 

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team 

Webinar Invitation - Tomorrow 10AM MT

Dec. 12, 2019, 3:31 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Hi Innovators,

Are you looking for insights on how to put together a strong application?

We’re hosting a webinar tomorrow at 10am MT to give context for the prize, outline some best practices for applying, and answer any of your questions about the rules. 

Register today:

-The Ocean Observing Prize Team

DISCOVER Competition Now Open for Applications

Nov. 14, 2019, 4:51 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Hi Innovators, 

The time has come! 

The Ocean Observing Prize is now open and accepting applications. Get started by reading the rules document , setting up your team, and starting to put together your submission. If you have questions, reach out to us on the forum.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the rules, join us for our introductory webinar on December 13 and ask any questions to us directly. 

Forum 6
Community 203