American-Made Solar Prize Network

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.

American-Made Network: supporting collaboration and innovation

Help competitors solve pressing technology challenges, forge connections, and advance potentially game-changing ideas and innovations. The American-Made Network leverages highly specialized skills, tools, and expertise to strengthen and scale critical connections to support the progress and success of competitors. Members will include national labs, incubators, investors, facilities, and seasoned industry members.

Connectors: DOE and NREL will partner with national labs, accelerators, incubators, universities, industry organizations, and other entities to help competitors navigate the innovation process. Connectors recruit entrepreneurs into the prize and provide the support and connections needed to win by performing support actives such as:

  • Attracting a diverse range of talented individuals to become contest competitors;
  • Helping competitors refine their innovations, develop business plans, work with mentors, and connect with investors and industry partners;
  • Raising non-federal funding to support this program and its participants;
  • Providing in-kind resources, tools, and facilities to accelerate competitors’ abilities to innovate, test, and refine their solutions while reducing technology and business risks;
  • Connecting competitors to regional prototyping and manufacturing expertise, facilities, and experts.

Connectors who support participants that go on to win any of the Ready! Set! or Go! Contests can earn performance payments based on the table below.

Connector performance payments:
Anticipated Number of Awards Dollar Amounts Details
Up to 25 $25,000 pool Distributed to Connectors to recruit participants through targeted outreach and events leading up to the Ready! Contest submission deadline.
Up to 40 $100,000 pool Distributed to Connectors for recruiting a winning competitor into in the Ready! Contest.
Up to 12 $70,000 pool Distributed to Connectors that mentor competitors and facilitate partnership agreements of Set! Contest and Go! Contest winners.
Up to 3 $200,000 pool Distributed proportionately to the top three Connectors that raise the most private capital in support of the program.

Entities interested in participating as a Connectors will be invited to sign up for notifications of Connector partnering opportunities.

Power Connectors: Connectors interested in having a more substantial role in expanding the American-Made Solar Prize as power connectors should register before June 19. Power connectors will be eligible to receive a $100,000 contract with NREL to build capacity for the Solar Prize, ensure replicability and long-term sustainability of the prize program. Two will be selected to receive an additional $25,000 to host a demo day event. Power Connectors can earn performance payments for efforts that achieve:

  • Increasing the number of new, high-quality competitors
  • Expanding the network of partners, resources, and tools
  • Increasing the diverse set of funding sources
  • Producing engaging and well-attended national demo day showcases
  • Expanding the scope of manufacturing and technological challenges addressed by the program
  • Repeated support of contests with an increasingly robust American-Made Network and expanded funding from non-governmental sources.

Learn more about the Power Connector roles and how they work alongside NREL to build a sustainable network.

View the full Connector / Power Connector Guidelines

Vouchers: access tools and expertise

Vouchers will provide competitors access to tools and expertise from national labs or qualified facilities. Competitors can win up to $150,000 in vouchers, which can be used to develop, test, and validate solutions. Voucher facilities provide competitors with:

  • Access to hardware and software development tools
  • Access to national laboratory, university, and private laboratories
  • Expert networks and platforms for coders, designers, and others
  • Specialized facilities with additive or digital manufacturing support
  • Other testing and validation capabilities.

Voucher Payments:

Registered national labs, Connectors, Power Connectors, private facilities and industry partners can access competitors’ technical assistance requests and be invited to submit a single PowerPoint slide proposal for work that could be performed to help Set! and Go! prize winners advance their concepts via development, fabrication, testing, validation, or other capabilities and expertise.

Vouchers awarded to winners of the Set! and Go! prizes may be used at:
National labs

2/3 of up to $75K (up to$50K) each for Set! and Go! winners

Independent facilities

1/3 of up to $75K ($25K each) for Set! and Go! winners

View the guidelines summary
Full guidelines coming soon