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Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize Round 3 logo

Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize Round 3

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), EPIC Round 3 is designed to provide stable funding to incubators developing new programs to support energy entrepreneurs and start-ups. EPIC Round 3 awards $4 million in cash prizes and cooperative agreements to competitors with the most creative, high-impact plans to develop strong programming and connections for startups and entrepreneurs with promising energy technologies.


Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Round 3

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), EPIC Round 3 is a $4 million competitive funding program for the nation's most innovative incubators supporting energy startups. EPIC Round 3 awards cash prizes and a three-year cooperative agreement to regional incubator teams that submit the most creative and impactful plans, then implement those plans to develop strong programming, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs.

Technology startups require more than capital to launch, grow, and scale their innovations. Incubators provide the mentorship, technology validation, business development, connections to manufacturers, and other resources, that are critical to a startup’s success. The prize seeks to address a capital gap in supporting these incubators by providing both short-term financial gains through a prize competition and a multi-year, stable funding program to be applied where domestic incubators need it most.

The new approach to EPIC—combining a prize competition with a cooperative agreement negotiation with OTT—encourages bold and impactful ideas, while providing incubators with the long-term funding needed to scale those ideas. Together with OTT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who manages the EPIC Round 3, these incubators will strengthen the small business ecosystem in the United States and advance our clean energy future.

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Prize Structure

EPIC Round 3 is composed of three phases to support energy incubators and accelerators:

  • Phase 1: Competitors will create a plan to support energy startups and entrepreneurs and define their metrics for success. Up to 20 competitors will win $150,000 each.
  • Phase 2: Phase 1 finalists will begin to implement their novel programming and create a continuation plan worthy of selection for a cooperative agreement. Select Phase 2 winners will then be invited to negotiate a cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million.
  • Phase 3: Winning teams will negotiate their three-year cooperative agreement with OTT.

Phase 2 will include two pitch competitions in which all past and present EPIC incubators can nominate energy startups for a chance to win up to $210,000 total.

Timeline graphic of the American-Made Challenges EPIC Prize framework; Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 (Cooperative Agreement)

Important Dates

Phase 1

Submission opens:

September 26, 2023

Submission deadline (anticipated):

February 9, 2024

Phase 2

Submission opens (anticipated):

April 1, 2024

Submission deadline (anticipated):

September 30, 2024

3-Year Cooperative Agreement


between October 1 and December 31, 2024 (anticipated)

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements.

Sign up for updates for the EPIC Prize Round 3 here.

Who is Eligible to Compete?

OTT welcomes incubator organizations that aid in the development of new business ventures, including incubators, accelerators, co-working startup communities, or any other organizations that self-identify as advocates for innovation and entrepreneurship. We encourage these organizations, including organizations that have competed in prior rounds of the EPIC Prize, to compete in EPIC Round 3.

This funding program is open to private entities (for-profits and nonprofits) and academic institutions that meet all eligibility requirements.

  • Private entities must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States.
  • Programming proposed by incubators must have an emphasis on supporting startups with a hard-tech focus.
  • While National Laboratories are not eligible to compete, they may support teams in the competition if they are engaging the teams in compliance with lab partnership requirements.

For more eligibility information, review the official prize rules.

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Solutions that help shape the future

Are you an incubator or accelerator with innovative ideas? You belong here. Follow EPIC Round 3 on HeroX to get started!

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