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The current Countdown Contest closes on November 3, 2022. 

Register to compete!

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office is funding the American-Made Challenges: Perovskite Startup Prize, a two-stage, $3 million prize competition designed to accelerate the development and manufacturing of perovskite solar cells by moving world-class research out of the lab and into new U.S. companies.

Competitors who advance from the first stage to the second will receive a $200,000 cash prize. The winners of the second stage will receive $500,000 in cash—a combined total of $700,000—plus $100,000 in technical support vouchers for launching a viable solar manufacturing company with the potential to introduce marketable perovskite products in the United States.

By soliciting the talents and innovative spirit of diverse American entrepreneurs, the Perovskite Startup Prize will advance this promising technology and help increase opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

The prize was announced on March 25, 2021. Applicants must build teams and form for-profit U.S. companies whose date of incorporation is on or after October 16, 2020. Individuals and nonprofits are not eligible to compete.


The first stage of the competition is the Countdown Contest. To enter, participants must assemble a team of strong technical and business experts and then submit plans for a viable perovskite solar business with quantifiable goals. During the contest, teams can leverage the American-Made Network—consisting of national laboratories, investors, industry experts, and more—for resources, connections, and technical support. Teams selected to advance to the next stage of the competition will receive $200,000 in cash.

The second and final stage of the competition is the Liftoff Contest. Competitors will complete the objectives in the plan evaluated during the Countdown Contest, obtain third-party validation of their perovskite solar cells and modules, and solidify the network that will help them launch their business.

SETO added a new prize level called the Power Up Prize, which will provide a $40,000 cash prize to support teams that present a compelling innovation that needs further refinement. Power Up Prize winners are encouraged to further iterate on their technology and continue competing in future Countdown deadlines.

Countdown Contest Finalists

Verde Technologies
Location: Burlington, VT
Project Summary: This startup spun out of the University of Vermont and is demonstrating a high-performing, single-junction perovskite device, with the goal of developing a flexible all-perovskite tandem module for the residential solar market.

SoFab Inks
Location: Louisville, KY

Project Summary: This startup spun out of the University of Louisville and is developing high-performance inks to be used in perovskite devices.

Beyond Silicon
Location: Chandler, AZ
Project Summary: This team, a startup that spun out of Arizona State University, is developing a perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cell that has the potential to surpass the efficiency limit of standard silicon solar cells. Beyond Silicon’s mission is to bring to market perovskite/silicon two-terminal tandem solar cells that are more than 28% efficient in 2024.

Power Up Prize Winners

Location: Renton, WA
Project Summary: This team is working closely with the University of Washington and is licensing technology from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Their innovation aims to produce and commercialize state-of-the-art high-efficiency perovskite solar cells.

Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Project Summary: This startup spun out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is developing perovskite bifacial modules using high-throughput, low-cost solution processes with high stability and energy yield.


  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; applicants will have quarterly opportunities to apply.
  • The first Countdown Contest opened on March 25, 2021, and closed June 30, 2021.
  • The second Countdown Contest opened July 21, 2021, and closed September 30, 2021.
  • The Liftoff Contest opened in October 2021.
  • The third Countdown Contest opened October 2021 and closed January 7, 2022.
  • The fourth Countdown Contest opened on January 25, 2022 and closed April 28, 2022.
  • The fifth Countdown Contest opened on May 16, 2022 and closed July 28, 2022.
  • The current cycle of the contest opened on August 29, 2022 and will close on November 3, 2022.
  • The final cycle of the Countdown Contest is expected to open later in November and close on April 6, 2023.

Learn More

The Perovskite Startup Prize is part of the American-Made Challenges and is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.