American-Made Solar Prize pitch showcase at RE+ – pv magazine USA

Ten hardware and ten software track finalists compete for $1.4 million prize.
Image: DOE
The American-Made Solar Prize is a multimillion-dollar competition funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and designed to promote solar innovation in the United States through a series of contests. Competitors can be individuals of one or multiple organizations, students, university faculty members, small business owners, researchers, or anyone residing in the U.S. who has the desire and drive to transform an idea into solution with impact. Competitors may seek support through members of the American-Made Network, our innovation engine of more than 250 organizations, including world-class experts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national labs, clean tech accelerators, incubators, universities, facilities, and more.
The program includes three prize competitions, called the Ready!, Set!, and Go! Contests. In the Ready! Contest teams focus on innovative ideas that will address a solar industry technology need, proving that they have developed a great team, a game-changing solution, and a plan. In the Set! Contest, teams begin developing and demonstrating early-stage proofs-of-concept. And in the Go! Contest, teams try to prove that their solutions work, and they must show substantial progress throughout the contests. work and they have made substantial progress over the course of the contests.
In April, the DOE announced the 20 finalist teams chosen after they pitched their concepts for during Set! Demo Day events.
“The innovations we see from competitors in the American-Made Solar Prize each year are incredibly inspiring,” said Garrett Nilsen, acting director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. “And we need all innovators now more than ever if we’re going to expand solar’s accessibility to Americans and meet our net-zero goals. Congratulations to these teams, and we look forward to seeing where they can take their products.”
The Solar Prize has always placed an emphasis on manufacturing solar innovation, but after four successful rounds focused primarily on tangible technologies, prize administrators saw the need to split the fifth round into two tracks: the Hardware Track and the Software Track. Competitors in the Hardware Track are focused on designing a physical component, manufacturing process, or producible product that benefits the solar industry. Software Track Teams are targeting communications, computation, data systems, information technology, or business models with a software focus that help accelerate solar power implementation. Teams in the Software Track can also opt to participate in the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, which focuses on advancing solar adoption in underserved communities, for additional cash prizes.
The latest round, Round 5, launched last summer and teams submitted their initial concepts in October. The competitor pool was reduced to 40 semifinalists in December, after which teams began work on revising and refining their innovations in preparation for Set! Demo Day, where they shared their progress with expert reviewers. Hardware Track teams were asked to show progress in developing and demonstrating early-stage proofs of concept, while Software Track teams were required to demonstrate minimum viable products.
The 10 Hardware Track finalists were each awarded $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000 in support vouchers to use at national laboratories and other partner facilities to continue advancing their innovation from proof of concept to prototype. Software Track finalists received $60,000 each, and three teams received an additional $33,333 for winning the optional JEDI Contest. The finalist teams will now move on to compete in the final stage of the competition, the Go! Contest.
Solar Prize Round 5 finalist teams:
Hardware Track
Software Track
The 20 finalists will present their technologies one last time at Go! Demo Day this September. Ultimately, only two teams in each track will win the final prize, each receiving even larger cash prizes and support vouchers to help them bring their technology to market. The Pitch Showcase will take place at RE+ in Anaheim on Sept. 20 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Grid Edge Theater. By pitching their technologies to the solar industry, these final teams compete for part of a $1.4 million prize. The winner will be announced on Sept. 20 from 5 to 6 p.m.
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