Current American-Made Challenges

Last Updated March 14, 2023 | Annabelle Swift, Associate, CEBN

The American-Made Network is busy this season with multiple prizes to fast track the clean energy revolution! In our previous blog, Insights into the American-Made Program, we explained how the program awards cash prizes to innovators working on developing and commercializing cleantech through American-Made Challenges.

Looking for more information on what competitions are a good fit for you and what prizes are ongoing? See below for a summary of current prize competitions.

What American-Made Challenges are currently open?

Deadlines coming soon:

  • Perovskite Startup Prize: $3 million prize competition designed to accelerate the development and manufacturing of perovskite solar cells. The last Countdown Contest cycle is open. Teams can win a $40,000 Power Up Prize or be selected as a Countdown Contest finalist, receiving $200,000 and the ability to compete in the Liftoff Content for an additional $600,000 in prizes. Apply by March 23.
  • Direct Air Capture (DAC) Prize: Suite of prizes to advance CO2 removal technologies. $115 million is available through the Pre-Commercial EPIC Prize for regional incubators, the Pre-Commercial Technology Prize for R&D, and the Commercial Prize. All three prizes are due March 30.
  • Carbon Management Collegiate Competition: Collegiate students will be tasked with proposing a regional carbon transport network, defining its business model, and optimizing the transport network across several parameters and with consideration to regional stakeholders, challenges, and cost variability. Enrolled teams may submit applications by April 14.

Open Competitions:

  • Energizing Rural Communities Prize: this $15 million prize supports innovative partnership and finance plans to help rural or remote communities develop clean energy demonstration projects. Check out CEBN’s blog post for more info and apply by May 21.
  • SolarAPP+ Prize: Prizes of $15,000 will be awarded to local governments that successfully adopt or pilot SolarAPP+ in about five months. Step 2 final submissions are due April 27.
  • High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Prize: Up to four winning teams will receive $50,000 each for proposing new HVDC technology solutions to strengthen the U.S. energy grid. An informational webinar will be held April 6. Apply by June 7.
  • Microbattery Design Prize: Total prize pool of $1.1 million is available in federal funding, andperformance and safety testing services with DOE national laboratories. This prize is seeking designs for microbatteries to support new uses for small electronic devices with improved performance, safety, and recyclability. Submit your battery design for Phase One by June 29 for the opportunity to test a prototype in Phase Two.
  • Buildings Upgrade Prize: Cash prizes and technical assistance for innovative concepts to leverage funding to equitably transform a wide variety of buildings across diverse geographies. Application support will be given on a rolling basis February 15, March 15, and April 14 before Phase 1 applications are due July 18. Training and applicant support webinars will be held throughout March, April and May – register here.
  • Geothermal Geophone Prize: Phase 1 winners were announced for this $3.65M prize to develop high-temp, downhole seismic monitoring for geothermal. New teams can join in Phase 2: Design & Proof-of-Concept. Apply for Phase 2 by October 2, 2023 for the opportunity to compete in Phase 3: Prototype & Test.

What prizes are in progress?

These prizes are no longer accepting applications but may serve as a useful background for future funding opportunities.

  • Community Power Accelerator Prize: $10 million prize competition designed to fast-track the efforts of new, emerging, and expanding solar developers and co-developers to learn, participate, and grow their operations to support multiple successful community solar projects. Applications just closed on March 15.
  • Community Clean Energy Coalition Prize: $1.5 million in prizes to help community coalitions—made up of nonprofits, city governments, school systems, and other community organizations—come together to develop a strategy to address a local clean energy opportunity or inequity. Learn more about the Phase One winners in CEBN’s feature post.
  • Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize: $4 million total prize pool to incentivize incubators that implement high-impact ideas to support energy startups. Twenty-four semifinalists will nominate start-ups to compete in two public showcases. Register now for the EPIC Showcase on March 30!
  • CABLE Conductor Manufacturing Prize: Teams are current competing in this $4.5 million prize competition to develop and manufacture breakthrough conductivity-enhanced materials. Stage 2 submission packages are due March 23.
  • EnergyTech University Prize 2022-2023: This prize awards a total of $370,000 in cash prizes to student teams that successfully identify an energy technology, assess its market potential, and propose a strategy for commercialization. The final competition will be held April 3.
  • Lighting Prize (L-Prize): This $12.2 million competition will advance LED lighting and advanced lighting system development. The intent to submit for the Prototype Phase is due January 13, with applications due May 1.
  • Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize: 18 teams won the first-ever Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. In Phase 2, six teams from Phase 1 will receive a share of a $1.5 million prize pool to continue activities that advance inclusive energy innovation. Applications for Phase 2 are due in May 2023.
  • H-Prize: Hydrogen Shot Incubator: This $2.6M competition has entered the Prove!  Phase, where winners of the Propose! Phase will develop their concepts and designs for clean hydrogen technologies. Phase 2 submissions are due June 12.
  • Geothermal Lithium Extraction Prize: This prize seeks to de-risk and increase market viability for direct lithium extraction from geothermal brines. Winners of Phase 1 and 2 can apply for Phase 3 Fabricate & Test by July 3.
  • Digitizing Utilities Prize: $1.1M in prizes to connect utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data analytics, processing, quality assurance, storage, and deletion. Teams selected in Phase One can apply for Phase Two by August 23.
  • Solar Desalination Prize: Rounds 1 and 2 are open to existing competitors. Learn more about the semi-finalists in CEBN’s feature post.

How can I get involved with the American-Made Network?

The American-Made Network includes 250+ accelerators, incubators, universities, non-profits, testing and industrial facilities, and national labs. These organizations leverage their expertise to help prize participants with their applications—or form valuable partnerships—and are referred to as “Connectors” or “Power Connectors” (in the case of groups that work more closely with NREL to support the prizes). CEBN is proud to serve as a Power Connector, recruiting and supporting prize applicants.

  • Become a Connector: Any organizations interested in becoming part of the American-Made Network can start by creating an account within the American-Made Network.
  • Become a Power Connector: Applications are not currently open for new Power Connectors. We encourage you to sign up for the mailing list below to be notified when that application opens.
  • Stay updated on future American-Made Challenges by joining the mailing list.


Read our summary post Insight into the American-Made Program  to learn more, and explore the Cleantech Funding Database for other current and ongoing funding opportunities to support your work.