American-Made Challenges

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Solar Prize Round 5 Software Track

Solar Prize Round 5 Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes over three contests.
stage:
Solar Prize R5 Informational Webinar
prize:
$1,600,000
Overview

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.

Software 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 Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes over three progressive contests to competitors who are accelerating the development, validation, and commercialization of innovative solar software solutions that increase the competitiveness of the U.S. solar industry.

Why a Software 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 communications, computation, or information technology that allows industry to rethink how today’s solar energy problems are solved, the Software Track is for you.

A Focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Software Track also offers participants the option to compete for a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Trophy, which offers additional prizes for technologies that consider and incorporate environmental justice principles. This optional element asks competitors to develop solutions that enable underserved communities to overcome systemic barriers to solar deployment, with an additional $300,000 in cash prizes available to those who successfully complete this challenge. 

Learn more about the JEDI Trophy in the official Software Track 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 Software Track offers $1.6 million in cash prizes, plus additional support vouchers, the JEDI Trophy, and connections to national laboratories and industry resources. 

Guidelines

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

Timeline
Updates 10

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, 8:45 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


JEDI Contest Support Resources

Sept. 9, 2021, 9:18 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Slides are available from last month’s Solar Prize Software Track Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest Webinar and registration is open for the next virtual learning event.

Solar Prize Software Track JEDI Contest Webinar Slides

Did you miss the Solar Prize Software Track JEDI Contest Webinar with New Energy Nexus on Aug. 25? You can now view the presentation slides to catch up on everything you missed. During the webinar, JEDI Advisory Committee member Tenley Dalstrom reviewed the Software Track Ready! Contest requirements, the JEDI Contest, eligibility, submission materials, finding assistance, and more. 

Download the slides here. 

Solar Prize JEDI Contest Idea Lab 

Need help preparing your pitch? Looking for technical feedback or recommendations on business development ideas and potential partners? Want more ideas on how your solar solution can benefit underserved communities?

Join the Solar Prize JEDI Contest Idea Lab event on Sept. 24 at 2:30 p.m. ET! This interactive and free-thinking virtual event will bring experts from the American-Made Network with a range of disciplines and backgrounds together in a collaborative thinking process. This event will help you brainstorm viable solutions for your solar innovation, identify potential partners, provide feedback on how to best position your proposal for the optional JEDI Contest, and make you aware of strengths and weaknesses in your proposal. 

This event is seeking 6-8 companies to present pitches at the event. If you are interested in showcasing your pitch to receive mentorship and feedback, register now for the Solar Prize JEDI Contest Idea Lab event.

Don’t forget—submissions are due Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. ET. The prize administrators highly recommend taking advantage of support opportunities like these to help prepare your successful submission the Solar Prize Software Track.


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.


Ask Questions at the Solar Prize Software Track JEDI Contest Webinar and Office Hours

Aug. 25, 2021, 6:47 a.m. PDT by Jackie Petre

Have questions about competing in the Solar Prize Round 5? Get answers at an upcoming webinar or office hours sessions. Learn more below! 

TODAY! Solar Prize Software Track Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest Webinar, Aug. 25, 2 p.m. ET

Did you know you are eligible for more cash rewards if you demonstrate positive impact on underserved communities? Do you have questions about how you can apply to the Solar Prize Round 5? 

Join New Energy Nexus today for a webinar to review the Solar Prize Round 5 Hardware and Software Tracks, with a focus on the JEDI Contest within the Software Track. Hear about the type of support that will be made available to applicants and how to access that support. Learn more and register for the webinar.

Ask Me About the Solar Prize - Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Reward  

JEDI Advisory Committee member Sandra Halvatzis is hosting office hours for anyone who has questions about participating in the Solar Prize Round 5. Halvatzis is a policy consultant and the president of Halvatzis and Associates, LLC, a company that provides the economic research, analysis, and business strategy that help organizations effectively advocate for policies that move everyone toward a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future.

The focus of office hours is how to get involved in the Software Track’s JEDI Contest. If you want to incorporate environmental justice principles into your software technology, Halvatzis can answer questions. Sign up for a free 30-minute office hours session on a date and time that works best for you.


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