Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 8/29/2023

American Made Challenges -- Community Energy Innovation Prize

The $7.49 million Community Energy Innovation Prize is the successor of two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prizes related to community-based clean energy innovation: the Community Clean Energy Coalition Prize and the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize.

The new combined prize is supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED), and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO). Eligible competitors will develop and carry out activities related to clean energy that promote business and technology incubation and acceleration as well as other community-based capacity building, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The Community Energy Innovation Prize has three tracks:

  • Clean Energy Ecosystem Track: In this track, a total prize pool of $4.9 million is available for community-led projects across a wide range of clean energy initiatives, technologies, and areas of focus that advance local clean energy transitions.
  • Manufacturing Ecosystem Track: In this track, a total prize pool of $2.1 million is available for projects that advance clean energy manufacturing innovation ecosystems in historically underserved communities. Successful applicants will bring together public, private, and community stakeholders to address key barriers to advancing manufacturing innovation, business models, and market development. These projects may include, but are not limited to, manufacturing-related education and workforce development, entrepreneurship, resilient supply chains, circular economy development, or other goals related to clean energy manufacturing.
  • Collegiate Track: In this track, a total prize pool of $450,000 is available for student-led teams to work alongside a community partner on a project related to the clean energy transition. These efforts aim to help prepare students for careers in clean energy through collaboration in a real-world setting. Students from minority serving institutions, universities located in rural and/or disadvantaged communities, and community colleges are especially encouraged to apply.

All three tracks of the prize will play out over three phases. Any eligible team may compete in the first phase, CONCEPT, where applicants form their coalitions and develop project ideas. Up to 34 teams across the three tracks will be selected as CONCEPT phase winners and receive an initial cash prize along with mentorship and access to NREL technology experts. Winning teams will be eligible to move on to the PROGRESS and IMPACT phases.  

Applications to compete in the CONCEPT phase for all three tracks are now open. Collegiate Track submissions are due on November 3, 2023, and Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Track applications are due on February 2, 2024.

Eligibility Requirements

Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks

This track is open only to private entities (for-profits and nonprofits); nonfederal government entities such as states, counties, tribes, and municipalities; academic institutions; and individuals. Eligibility is subject to the requirements detailed in the official prize rules.

Collegiate Track

Teams must be made up of an academic institution, eligible students, and a community partner that meets the requirements as detailed in the official prize rules. Diverse, interdisciplinary, well-rounded teams are highly encouraged. An institution may submit applications for multiple teams, but a maximum of one team from that institution may be selected to compete. Both U.S. and non-U.S. institutions and students are welcome to apply, but non-U.S. institutions must partner with a U.S.-accredited institution to participate. Refer to additional eligibility requirements in the official prize rules.