The American-Made Network

The American-Made Network helps to accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, investors, facilities and other valuable industry partners from across the United States who engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.



American-Made Network members work with Solar Prize competitors, offering resources and support at every stage of the competition. There are a variety of roles within the American-Made Network—participants can be a Power Connector, Connector, facility, or a partner. All American-Made Network members are incentivized to help competitors succeed through performance awards or vouchers that competitors use at facilities and national labs.


The Network helps competitors solve pressing technology challenges, forge connections, and advance potentially game-changing ideas and innovations. It also leverages highly specialized skills, tools, and expertise to strengthen and scale critical connections to support the progress and success of competitors.

Connectors


National labs, accelerators, incubators, universities, industry organizations, and other entities who help competitors navigate the innovation process are called Connectors. Connectors recruit entrepreneurs to participate in the Solar Prize and provide the support, resources, and necessary connections needed to succeed in the competition.


The Solar Prize offers Connectors incentives to help competitors succeed. Connectors are eligible to win Recognition Rewards for a variety of activities, including:

  • Attracting a diverse range of talented individuals to become contest competitors;
  • Helping competitors refine their innovations, develop business plans, and connect competitors 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; and
  • 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 Recognition Rewards 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.

We are continually adding expertise and resources to the Network.


Power Connectors


Power Connectors are a core group of national labs, accelerators, incubators, universities, industry organizations, and other entities who further develop and sustain the program. They substantially help teams achieve project success, build long-term alliances and capabilities for the program, host demo days, and partner with NREL to envision and execute a long-term sustainable strategy for scaling the American-Made Challenges.


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

Facilities


Facilities, like national labs and independent fabrication and manufacturing companies, will provide competitors with access to tools and expertise to help them develop their solutions. In addition to cash prizes, at the end Set! and Go! demonstration days, finalists and winners will receive up to $150,000 in vouchers that can be used at participating facilities in the American-Made Network. Competitors will then use vouchers to access tools and experts that can help them further develop, test, and validate solutions.

Facilities provide:

  • Access to hardware and software development tools at national laboratories, universities, and private laboratories;
  • Specialized facilities with additive or digital manufacturing support; and
  • Other testing and validation capabilities and equipment.


Learn more about joining the American-Made Network as a facility.

Partners


Investors, businesses, and other industry groups can join the Network to partner with competitors for a project and offer additional funding or services for both competitors and the program. Industry partners contribute to the long-term sustainability of the program or success of a team.

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.