About the American-Made Solar Prize

The American-Made Solar Prize is the inaugural prize competition of the American-Made Challenges, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), designed to incentivize the nation's entrepreneurs to reenergize innovation and reassert American leadership in the energy marketplace.


These new challenges seek to lower the barriers U.S.-based innovators face 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 brings together the world's best-in-class research base with an 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.


Why a prize model?

The Solar Prize supports the Administration’s work to spur solar manufacturing, develop innovative solar solutions and products, and create new domestic jobs and opportunities through public-private partnerships. It will demonstrate a new way government can foster R&D to empower solar manufacturing and reassert national leadership in the solar marketplace.


The prize and challenge model will help to disrupt traditional thinking in this sector, and introduce, expand, and evolve what’s possible. They can enable Federal agencies to:

  • Inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to solve difficult and important problems
  • Establish ambitious goals without having to predict which team or approach is most likely to succeed
  • Reach beyond the usual stakeholders to increase the number of perspectives working to develop solutions for a specific problem
  • Foster interdisciplinary collaboration and perspectives, reflective of the modern research environment.
  • Prizes and challenges is that it makes it easy for anyone to participate bringing people together from private sector and government to leverage resources.
  • Make innovation easy, fast, and agile. Rapid innovation cycles will help boost competitiveness and accelerate the transition of inventions to industry.


Who's behind the prize?

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.

image of a female researcher working with laboratory equipment

The DOE can leverage Secretary Perry’s authorization of Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT) for national laboratories (announced on November 13, 2017) which enables flexible and facile financial arrangements between industry and national labs.

What is HeroX?

NREL is working with HeroX, an online platform to crowdsource knowledge and facilitate the submission of industry-relevant problems and potential solutions. Through HeroX, anyone can participate by submitting problem and/or opportunity statements. The community can share feedback by commenting on postings and sharing resources. Open communication will connect stakeholders and bring new ideas to light in ways that were not previously available.


HeroX will also serve as the hub for registration, idea and competition submissions, build teams, judging, etc.

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