American-Made Challenges


Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track

The Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes to competitors over three progressive contests.
Solar Prize R5 Informational Webinar

Challenge Overview

Solar Prize Round 5

The American-Made Solar Prize is a prize competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation through a series of contests and the development of a diverse and powerful support network that leverages national laboratories, energy incubators, and other resources across the country.

Rounds 1 through 4 of the Solar Prize focused on solar manufacturing and hardware components. The Solar Prize Round 5 is structured with two tracks that focus separately on hardware and software components to allow more entrepreneurs to compete in the solar innovation space.

Hardware Track

The fifth round of the Solar Prize is designed to spur more solar innovation than ever before by splitting participants into two separate technology-focused tracks. The Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes over three progressive contests to competitors who are developing physical solar innovations that energize U.S. manufacturing. 

Why a Hardware Track? 

The Solar Prize has always placed an emphasis on manufacturing solar innovation in the United States. After four successful rounds focusing primarily on tangible technologies, the prize administrators decided to split Round 5 into two tracks—the Hardware Track and the Software Track. Both follow the same prize structure but allow competitors to stay in different lanes to bring both hardware and software products closer to market. 

If your solar innovation focuses on a physical component, manufacturing process, or producible product, the Hardware Track is for you. Learn more by viewing the official rules.

The Solar Prize Contests

The Solar Prize encourages the rapid development of innovative solar energy solutions capable of addressing the tough challenges facing the solar industry. Solar Prize competitors participate in three contests—the Ready! Set! and Go! Contests to transform their ideas into concepts and then early-stage prototypes ready for industry testing. 

The Hardware Track offers $3 million in cash prizes, plus additional support vouchers and connections to national laboratories and industry resources. 


Challenge Guidelines

Please review the official rules  for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at.

Updates 8

Challenge Updates

Solar Prize Round 5 Office Hours, Town Hall, and Live Event

Sept. 20, 2021, 1:47 p.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Looking for more assistance with your Solar Prize Round 5 submission? Take advantage of several Power Connector-led events this week! 

Office Hours with ADL Ventures

AMC Power Connector ADL Ventures is offering free one-on-one feedback sessions for Solar Prize competitors. At these sessions, ADL will be available to answer your questions about submission best practices, the application process, and suggestions for how to improve your submission. 

Sessions start on Sept. 21, so be sure to secure a 30-minute meeting time now! 

Solar Prize Round 5 Town Hall

Join Banks and Company in partnership with Power Connector Clean Energy Business Network in a Solar Prize 5 town hall meeting on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. ET to hear about how the Solar Prize is designed to accelerate solar innovation. Hear from prize administrators and learn how to compete for a share of the $4.6 million total prize pool! 

Learn more and register for the town hall.

Powering Forward: Building a Diverse Clean Energy Economy from the Ground Up

The eighth episode of the web series Powering Forward, hosted by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and the Clean Energy Business Network, explores strategies to strengthen diversity and inclusivity in the clean energy economy. During this live event on Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. ET, they’ll also discuss the Solar Prize Round 5 as a case study, as it seeks to recruit a diverse pool of applicants and focuses on promoting greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in solar access. 

Learn more and register to hear the live event.

Don’t forget, submissions are due Oct. 5, so utilize these opportunities for support before it’s too late! 

Intellectual Property Protection Fundamentals for Tech Startups and Entrepreneurs

Sept. 13, 2021, 8:44 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Find out how you can protect your startup’s intellectual property (IP) at this webinar on Sept. 16, brought to you by Power Connector ADL Ventures. Register here

As a budding small business owner or a serial entrepreneur, one of the most valuable pieces of property your business will own is its IP. Protecting your name, brand identity, or design may potentially have significant effects on your success. 

Join Power Connector ADL Ventures on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. ET for a webinar focused on IP protection fundamentals for tech startups and entrepreneurs. ADL Ventures will be joined by guest speakers from smart grid solution startup PACE, cellulose-based material developer InventWood, and legal experts from national law firm Babst Calland

Tune in to learn how to protect your IP as a startup or research team, especially as you get ready to compete in the Solar Prize Round 5. Register for the webinar here

Find Support with the Network Matching Tool

Sept. 3, 2021, 7:15 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Need help with your Solar Prize Round 5 submission? Use the American-Made Network Matching Tool to find the support and resources you need to succeed.

The hardest part of innovating can often be finding the right tools and expertise to move your technology to the next stage. That’s why the American-Made Challenges developed the Network Matching Tool, which fast-tracks the process by connecting innovators with companies that provide the specific knowledge, skills, and equipment needed to successfully compete in the prizes. 

This online tool allows you to specify your technology needs and get matched with organizations that have the expertise you need exactly when you need it.

Solar Prize Round 1 winner Bill Nussey got connected with NREL early to learn about the lab's solar panel testing capabilities.

The Network Matching Tool is available to Solar Prize Round 5 competitors across all technology areas. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Build your profile with details about the areas in which you need help.
  3. Get matched with Connectors who have the capabilities you need and start working with them.

Don’t wait until Connectors are fully booked to fill out your profile! See how it works and start getting connected with national laboratories, test facilities, business development mentors, and more by building your Network Matching Tool profile today.

Looking for Next Steps to Get Your Idea and Submission Going for the Solar Prize Round 5?

Aug. 25, 2021, 11:28 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

We have several opportunities for you to learn more about how to apply for the Solar Prize and connect with Connectors, who are there to help you be successful with your submission:

Network Matching Tool – The Network Matching Tool was created to quickly connect you with the supporters and resources you need to take your Solar Prize Round 5 idea to the next level. No matter how far along your hardware technology is, you can find the exact connections you need through the Network Matching Tool. All you need to do to get started is build your profile and let us know what you need help with. Start finding matches today with the Network Matching Tool.

Solar Prize Informational Webinar – If you missed the Solar Prize Round 5 Informational Webinar, catch up on everything you missed by watching the webinar recording. Learn about what elements are needed for your submission package and where you can get help putting your submission together. Watch the recording here.

HeroX Forum – The HeroX forum is a great place to post your questions, find answers to other questions, and meet other experts who could join your team. There are already a handful of questions and answers posted on the Hardware Track forum about competing in Round 5. Head over to the forum to post today.

Don’t forget to submit your innovation by Oct. 5!

How to Apply to the Solar Prize Round 5

Aug. 6, 2021, 9:43 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Applying to the Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware Track? Follow these five steps to make sure you successfully apply for the chance to win part of $3 million.

We know applying to the Solar Prize can be nerve-wracking. Do you have everything you need? Is your video compelling? Did you read the rules thoroughly? 

That’s why we’re breaking it down to a few simple steps. Here’s how you can apply to the Solar Prize Round 5: 

  1. Figure out which track is right for you—Round 5 has two separate tracks that focus on different technology areas: Hardware and Software. Decide which category your innovation falls under.
  2. Sign up on HeroX—once you know which track is right for you, make sure you create a HeroX account and follow the Hardware and/or Software Track to receive updates and prepare your submission.
  3. Utilize the Network Matching Tool—find resources who can support your innovation by providing submission reviews and connecting you to the tools you need to advance. Hurry—make connections now before Connectors are fully booked!
  4. Compile your submission—make sure you have all your submission elements, including a cover page, answers to four questions, a 90-second video, technical assistance request, and PowerPoint summary slide.
  5. Upload your submission by Oct. 5—get your submission in as soon as possible!

Don’t forget to review the rules for further details on each step. Submissions are due Oct. 5, though we highly recommend getting your application in sooner. 

We can’t wait to see your creative solar hardware solutions when you apply to Round 5.

Forum 21
Teams 290