Leer en español.

To bolster the clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) uses a variety of funding mechanisms—including prizes and competitions—to invest in American entrepreneurs and innovation. 

These prizes and competitions support innovators in every community—whether they’re working in their garage, an office, a classroom, or a laboratory—and help advance the clean energy transition. As our nation works to meet U.S. climate goals, EERE is committed to investing in people with a variety of life experiences and skillsets. Our energy portfolio is diversifying, and diversity of thought is critical to ensuring we view problems from every angle to find solutions with the greatest impact and potential. 

Support for Clean Energy Innovators

Innovators need more than funding to support their ideas. As competitors strive to win cash prizes, they also have access to tools and resources, including technical assistance. For example, the American-Made Network—a group of more than 400 private-sector support organizations and DOE’s 17 national laboratories—are available to participants in the American-Made Challenges, providing training, teaming, mentoring, and more.

Our nation needs passionate, creative, and diverse Clean Energy Champions to develop renewable energy and energy-saving technologies that will help decarbonize the U.S. economy. Have an innovative idea that will help build our clean energy future? Find a prize competition, challenge, or other funding mechanism that is right for you:


Video Url
Are you an innovator? America needs innovators who can help build our clean energy future. We are challenging anyone with a promising idea to compete in a clean energy prize competition—students, engineers, builders, inventors, community organizations, and more. National lab experts will help you along your journey. It’s the lowest barrier to DOE funding. Apply to a prize competition with DOE’s clean energy innovation hub, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Pick a prize and compete! All innovators are welcome!
American-Made Challenges
The American-Made program incentivizes innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring.
The American-Made Network
This community of creative entrepreneurs and thought-leading experts builds and accelerates world-changing clean energy ideas and technologies.
HeroX: American-Made Challenges
View the full list of American-Made Challenge prize competitions designed to accelerate and sustain American innovation.
EERE Funding, Prize, and Competition Opportunities
Explore current funding opportunity announcements, requests for information, and notices of intent from EERE.

Read Our Four-Part Series About Prizes

Part 1: Why DOE Started Using Cash Prizes to Incentivize Innovation
The U.S. Department of Energy had to invent new options for funding start-ups because the effects of climate change were outpacing technology commercialization.
Learn more
Part 2: How Progressive Cash Prizes Fueled a Cleantech Startup Revolution
Prize competitions at the U.S. Department of Energy are designed to make it easier and quicker for American innovators to develop clean energy technologies, launch businesses, and increase U.S. manufacturing.
Learn more
Part 3: How Much Can One Government Idea Alter the Course of Clean Energy?
The U.S. Department of Energy launched the first American-Made Challenge in 2018 to attract more diverse American innovators and accelerate commercialization of clean energy technologies.
Learn more
Part 4: The Federal Funding Option That Launched Hundreds of Cleantech Startups (and Counting)
The U.S. Department of Energy leveraged American-Made Challenge Prize competitions to get capital to clean energy organizations that were previously unable to access traditional federal funding resources.
Learn more

News About EERE Prizes and Competitions


Why Prizes

Prizes at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have been authorized by the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Reauthorization Act of 2010 (COMPETES) (15 USC § 3719). DOE carries out prizes to incentivize scientific and technological innovation by offering monetary and nonmonetary benefits (e.g., technical assistance, recognition and access to various resources). DOE uses prizes as tools to encourage a diverse set of innovators to tackle clean energy challenges.

Prizes offer competitors:

  • Lower barriers to DOE funding, particularly for out-of-discipline individuals and organizations who have not previously received federal funding
  • A safe environment for risk-taking that encourages new ideas, creativity, and pays for results
  • A level playing field for tackling ambitious goals, in which people with all backgrounds and skillsets can succeed 
  • Collaboration with public, private, and philanthropic entities supporting and sponsoring a prize
  • Recognition for excellence in a particular area.

Innovators and entrepreneurs in every community can win prizes and find innovative solutions that accelerate the clean energy transition, whether they're working in their garage, an office, a classroom, a community center, or a laboratory.

Sponsor a Prize

Non-federal government organizations, including private and philanthropic entities, may sponsor a DOE prize. In particular, they may: 

  • Partner with DOE to spur American innovation and bolster the clean energy economy
  • Directly access and support organizations and clean energy champions leading the clean energy transition
  • Enable a collaborative innovation ecosystem for emerging clean energy technologies
  • Invest in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and activities amongst clean energy projects and innovators across the country.

Contact the individual prize point of contact to learn more about sponsorship options.