The Algae Foundation sees a future that embraces algae as an essential solution for a sustainable and healthy planet. Our mission is to create that future through education, mentoring, and public outreach and engagement.
Products made from algae are the natural solution to the energy, food, economic, and climate challenges facing our world today. Algae have the power to simultaneously put fuels in our vehicles, recycle carbon dioxide, provide nutrition for animals and humans, and create jobs for millions of Americans.
The AlgaePrize, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office and managed by The Algae Foundation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), challenges students to become the next generation of bioeconomy professionals by expanding novel solutions to production, processing, and new product development on the way to gigaton-scale algae commercialization for fuel, food, products, and carbon dioxide utilization/sequestration.
Student teams competing in the AlgaePrize will range from high school through graduate programs. The competition will span over 2 academic years. The AlgaePrize will assist in establishing the competitors as serious candidates for the next generation of bioeconomy positions and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Competitors will prepare creative solutions for real-world issues in the algae value chain. Students will compete to earn prize money and national recognition.
The three areas of interest for the AlgaePrize include both microalgae and macroalgae. Student teams should focus their project on one of the following areas of interest:
- Downstream Processing
- Novel Products, Analytical Tools, or Ecosystem Services
This competition will award two separate rounds of prizes:
- Research Synopsis Prize The first stage of judging will result in up to 15 student teams being selected as AlgaePrize Finalists. Each finalist team will be awarded $10,000. Of the prize, $8,000 to be paid upon notice of finalist selection and an additional $2,000 in support of travel upon submissions of the research program’s final report.
- Final Awards Finalist teams will present their research at the AlgaePrize Competition Event on April 11-13, 2025 in Golden, Colorado. The five top student teams will be selected as AlgaePrize champions. Each champion team will be awarded a $10,000 prize. The five winning teams will then present their research to a final panel of judges. These judges will select a single Grand Champion and award the Grand Champion an additional $15,000 grand prize.
The five champion teams will be invited to participate in a national algal-based conference or symposium, e.g., the Algae Biomass Summit in the Fall of 2025 to present their research and network with conference participants from the national and international algae community.
Who is Eligible to Compete?
The AlgaePrize invites participation of teams composed of at least two student members enrolled in a U.S.-based educational institution (high school, accredited community college, college, university and/or graduate school). Students must be enrolled in at least one class and must be pursuing a degree or diploma at the time a student joins a team. Teams with students from multiple educational institutions are allowed, and multiple teams from the same educational institution are allowed. However, individual students may be members of only one team. The student team captain must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Each team must have a faculty advisor employed by a U.S.-based educational institution to provide input, guidance, and support. Judges, competition organizers, federal employees, and national laboratory employees are not eligible to compete in the competition. Immediate family members of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Algae Foundation, and NREL employees are not eligible to compete in the competition.
Student participation may be integrated into a senior project or thesis, count as elective or independent study course credit, be added to the curriculum of existing classes, treated as a seminar topic, engaged in as part of a student interest club, or be an extracurricular student activity.
High School Competitors: Student teams composed of all high school students under the age of 18 must have their faculty advisor register the team on HeroX. Each high school may support more than one team. High school students may not be on multiple teams. See the official rules document for full eligibility requirements.