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American-Made Challenges

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Solar Prize Round 6

The Solar Prize Round 6 offers $4.1 million in cash prizes to competitors over three progressive contests.
stage:
Power Connector Hosted Event - Solar Energy Change-MAKER Program
prize:
$4,100,000
Overview

Challenge Overview

Solar Prize Contests

Innovation happens when the right resources, people, and passion come together. With the American-Made Solar Prize Round 6, teams of creative individuals and entrepreneurs advance conceptual solutions toward product realities with the support of a unique and powerful network and a chance to win part of $4.1 million in prizes.

A Prize Competition Structured for Success

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 reality in months, rather than years. Competitors have the chance to win part of $4.1 million in prizes to help them advance in the competition and accelerate the development of their solution.

Round 6 includes an optional additional challenge that focuses on advancing solar in underserved communities. Participants who choose to incorporate this initiative into their solutions have the chance to be considered for a new Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest and a bonus cash prize!

More than $3 Million in Incentives for Innovation

The Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and test disruptive solutions to solar industry needs for a total of $3 million in cash prizes and $900,000 in vouchers that can be used at national laboratories and other voucher facilities to develop, test, and validate. Each contest has a performance period when participants work to advance their solutions.

The Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests

  • Ready! Contest
    20 winners / $50,000 cash prize each and optional JEDI Contest prize
    Winners are selected after identifying an impactful idea or solution addressing a critical need in the solar industry;
  • Set! Contest
    10 winners / $100,000 cash prize each, $75,000 support voucher each, and optional JEDI Contest prize
    Competitors work to substantially advance their technology solution toward a viable and promising proof of concept.
  • Go! Contest
    2 winners / $500,000 cash prize each, $75,000 support voucher each, and optional JEDI Contest prize
    ​Competitors work to substantially advance their solution from proof of concept to a refined prototype and find a partner to perform a pilot test of the prototype.

Demo Days

During the competition, competitors in the Set! and Go! Contests pitch and demonstrate proofs of concept and prototypes to a judging panel and audience at two live, in-person Demo Day events. Demo Days are opportunities to meet competitors, Connectors, Power Connectors, and other members of the American-Made Network. Demo Days culminate in the announcement of Set! finalists and Go! winners.

Connecting You to the Innovation Engine 

The American-Made Network provides support to Solar Prize competitors throughout the competition and is comprised of national labs, incubators, investors, facilities, and seasoned industry mentors. The American-Made Network strengthens and scales the critical connections needed to grow new businesses, develop solutions, and sustain American innovation. Members of the Network provide the tools, technical insight, product validation, industry expertise, and strategic support teams need to succeed throughout the competition.

Anyone can Compete

Competitors are entrepreneurial individuals or teams, legally residing or based in the U.S., including members of one or multiple organizations, students, university faculty members, small business owners, researchers, or anyone with the desire and drive to transform ideas into impactful realities.

Here's how to join the Solar Prize Round 6:

  1. Identify an important problem you want to solve
  2. Submit a 90-second video describing your challenge and proposed solution, team, and plan
  3. Answer a short, four-question narrative and make a slide about this problem or challenge
  4. Submit a two-page technical assistance request
  5. Update your videos and statements as you advance through the contests.
Guidelines

Challenge 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 .

The American-Made Solar Prize is a multimillion-dollar prize competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation through a series of contests that accelerate the entrepreneurial process from years to months. The American-Made Solar Prize is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more.

Timeline
Updates6

Challenge Updates

Solar Prize Round 6 Submissions Due Next Thursday

Sept. 28, 2022, 9 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Don’t forget to submit your Solar Prize Round 6 innovation by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 6!

With only a few days left until the Round 6 submission deadline, now is the time to finalize your submission elements and get your application uploaded to HeroX. As a reminder, here’s what you need to submit: 

  • 90-second video (public)
  • Cover page content
  • Narrative that answers four questions about the problem, solution, team, and plan [including optional responses to questions for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest consideration]
    • Not to exceed 2,500 words unless responding to the JEDI Contest questions, which allows for an additional 500 words.
  • One summary PowerPoint slide (public)
  • Technical assistance request (public)
  • Letters of commitment or support (optional).

Anyone submitting to Round 6 has the option to participate in JEDI Contest for additional cash prizes. See the rules for specific requirements around applying to the JEDI Contest. 

Make sure you review the rules carefully and use the submission template to complete your entry. Submissions must be in by 5 p.m. ET and we will not accept late submissions. We highly recommend uploading your submission as early as possible to avoid connectivity issues or upload delays. 

Don’t miss your chance to earn $50,000 in the Ready! Contest—submit your Solar Prize Round 6 submission now!


Now Available: Solar Prize Round 6 Informational Webinar Recording

July 14, 2022, 9 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

If you missed the Solar Prize Round 6 Informational Webinar, you can now stream the recording or view the presentation slides

During this presentation, the Solar Prize administrators reviewed competition goals, eligibility requirements, important dates, how to find support from the American-Made Network, and more. We also addressed numerous questions during the Q&A portion of the webinar.

If you would like submission support, please check the HeroX forum for ways to get in touch with Power Connectors and stay tuned for more details on this topic.

Check out the recording below to hear what was discussed and what you need to submit by Oct. 6. 


Don’t Miss the Solar Prize Informational Webinar Today!

July 13, 2022, 8 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Today’s the day to learn how to compete in the Solar Prize Round 6! Tune in at 2 p.m. ET today for this introductory session covering everything you need to know about how to compete in this round of the prize. Prize administrators will go over the details of the competition, then host a question-and-answer session. 

Make sure you join us live to ask your pressing questions about submissions, rules, deadlines, milestones, or any other aspect of the competition! Register here

We look forward to seeing you there! 


Join Us for a Solar Prize Round 6 Informational Webinar this Wednesday

July 11, 2022, 8:30 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Anyone interested in competing in Round 6 of the Solar Prize is encouraged to join us for an informational webinar on July 13 at 2 p.m. ET

Prize administrators will be on hand to go over this round’s competition structure, milestones, prize amounts, entry requirements, rules, and more. Stick around for a question-and-answer session, where they’ll be answering participants’ questions live. It’s a great way to get quick answers to all your questions!       

FYI: Round 6 is already open and accepting submissions! We encourage all U.S.-based entrepreneurial individuals and teams interested in developing new ideas, products, and solutions that advance the solar industry to apply.

Don’t miss this valuable introductory webinar this Wednesday, July 13, to ask questions and get answers ahead of the Oct. 6 submission deadline! Register here.


Interested in Solar Prize Round 6? Join Us for an Informational Webinar

July 7, 2022, 8:08 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

If you’re interested in competing in Round 6, please join us for an informational webinar on July 13 at 2 p.m. ET. This introductory session is a great place to learn more about this round’s competition structure, milestones, prize amounts, entry requirements, rules, and more. Prize administrators will be on hand for a question-and-answer session, so make sure you join us for the live webinar to get your questions answered.

Round 6 of the Solar Prize is open and accepting submissions! The prize is open to all U.S.-based entrepreneurial individuals and teams interested in developing new ideas, products, and solutions that advance the solar industry.

Anyone interested in learning more about competing in the Solar Prize Round 6 should plan to attend this webinar. Join us next Wednesday, July 13, to ask questions and get answers ahead of the Oct. 6 submission deadline! Register here.


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Teams447
Entries
Resources
FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Solve this Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

Yes, however, the intent of the voucher funding is to encourage the development of new and productive relationships. If you win a Set! or a Go! Prize then you will not be able to use your voucher funding at your current organization. i.e. National lab researchers would need to utilize their voucher at a Lab that is not where they are, or recently  (4 months or less) were, employed.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 

Yes, the intent of voucher funding is to encourage the development of new and productive relationships.

It is up to the Competitor to identify a suitable partner to pilot test for their proposed solution. Expert Reviewers and Judges will then assess the quality and feasibility of what is submitted.

The Ready! Contest Submission Template is under the resources tab.

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.

See who is in the network.

Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in the Solar Prize. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.

https://americanmadechallenges.org/network

Power Connector organizations are a core group of Connectors that will work alongside NREL to implement parts of the program and secure additional resources and partners.

Discover who they are and how they will help innovators succeed.

https://americanmadechallenges.org/power_connectors

If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at  .

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the Prize Administrator for the American-Made Challenges. In this capacity NREL works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to administer the challenges, maintain the website platform, assist in building the network, and pay prize money to the winning teams.

Tags and labels are a requirement in the submission form.  A series of checkbox options will present options for properly tagging or labeling your entry.

There are 3 primary keyword tags: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), Grid Integration & Modeling, and Photovoltaics (PV).

Each of the primary keyword tags have a subset of tags related to that topic.  These options will be presented during the submission process in the submission form.  

All of your files are uploaded as part of the submission form, access this by clicking the Begin Entry button.  The submission form contains an upload option for each of the required file entries.  Only PDF files will be accepted for upload.

Make your own public-facing one-slide submission summary that contains technically specific details but can be understood by most people. There is no template so feel free to present the information as you see fit. Please make any text readable in a standard printout and conference room projection.

The summary slide must be uploaded as a PDF document.  Please be sure that you export or save your slide as a PDF prior to uploading.

Yes!  There are no restrictions for competitors who submitted in Round 1 thru 5,  your great idea is still eligible for Round 6, but please refer to the Official Rules, specifically the Universal Contest Requirements and Program Policy Factors in the Appendix.

Round 6 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.

Here is the eligibility guidance from the Solar Prize Round 6 Official Rules, Section I.6: 
“Individuals, teams of individuals, private entities (for-profits and nonprofits), and nonfederal government entities (such as states, counties, tribes, municipalities, and academic institutions) are eligible to compete in the Ready! Contest.” 

“Individuals, private entities (for-profits and nonprofits), and nonfederal government entities (such as states, counties, tribes, municipalities, and academic institutions) are subject to the following requirements: 
• An individual prize competitor (who is not competing as a member of a group) must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. 
o A group of individuals competing as one team may win, provided that the online account holder of the submission is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Individuals competing as part of a team may participate if they are legally authorized to work in the United States.” 

For in the Ready! submission, please see the Solar Prize Round 6 Official Rules, Section II.6, under “Plan” of the Narrative:
“Provide a high-level budget and plan to meet your goals between the conclusion of the Ready! Contest and the Go! Demo Day, including how you will leverage program resources, members of the American-Made Network, or other entities (include references to letters of support/commitment if applicable).”