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.
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.
Reminder: Round 5 requires you to create an account in our new Network Matchmaking Tool. Make sure you are signing up as an “Innovator” and provide information about what your needs are related to your innovation. You can also connect directly with our American-Made Network (our connectors) who are willing and able to help you with your submission! Once you sign-in, you will be able to complete your Technical Assistance Request (TAR) form. This is a necessary step for your submission and separate from the HeroX platform. Please make sure that you log-in early and get connected here: Network Matchmaking Tool.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The Network Matching Tool is available to Solar Prize Round 5 competitors across all technology areas. Here’s how you can get started:
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.