The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a challenge-based prize competition in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to reenergize innovation in U.S. manufacturing. The American-Made Challenges incentivize the nation's entrepreneurs to reassert American leadership in the energy marketplace. These new challenges seek to lower the barriers U.S.-based innovators face in reaching manufacturing scale by accelerating the cycles of learning from years to weeks, while helping to create partnerships that connect entrepreneurs to the private sector and the network of DOE's National Laboratories across the nation.
The American-Made Challenges will bring together the world's best in class research base with its unparalleled entrepreneurial support system consisting of pioneering fabrication facilities, a broad network of energy incubators, and 17 National Laboratories to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations primed for private investment and commercial scale up.
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The American-Made Solar Prize is designed to strengthen and scale critical connections that accelerate and sustain American solar innovation through a series of prize competitions and the development of the American-Made Challenges Network.
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. NREL, along with 16 other national laboratories, will be serving as key technical partners who will work directly with teams to validate, build, and test products and solutions. The American Made Challenges Network consists of these national labs as well as other fabrication and manufacturing facilities that are willing to help teams turn ideas into real-world product solutions. We are also searching for partners who want to help make local and regional connections and mentor teams for success. The American-Made Challenges Network will cultivate resources and build connections that enhance, accelerate, and amplify the efforts of the competitors.
In November 2017, Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, authorized Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT) for National Laboratories, which enables new, flexible financial and business arrangements between industry and national labs. Using this mechanism, DOE can efficiently move innovations from idea to commercialization faster than has been typically historically possible for government funding arrangements.