DOE has crowned five winners of the EPIC Prize Pitch Competition, awarding more than $160,000 to those with the highest-potential tech energy innovation.

EPIC Pitch Competition winners, other competitors, and event organizers alongside Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and Officer and Director of OTT Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan on the stage in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Leo Boczar
EPIC Pitch Competition winners, other competitors, and event organizers alongside Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and Officer and Director of OTT Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan on the stage in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Leo Boczar

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) has awarded five startups with over $160,000 for their groundbreaking clean energy technologies as part of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize. EPIC provides the nation’s most innovative clean energy business incubators with DOE funds to support energy entrepreneurs.

“This startup pitch competition furthers OTT’s mission to help technologies move through the tricky research, development, demonstration, and deployment continuum so they leave the lab and make it to the market,” said DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of OTT Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan. “Each of the finalists represent teams that have mastered entrepreneurial skills and a critical focus on their targeted markets and the needs of their customers.”

From a pool of hundreds of candidates, the EPIC incubators nominated 15 startups for the EPIC Pitch Competition. From that group, the top eight clean tech startups were selected to pitch their cutting-edge technologies to a panel of four industry experts and more than 1,000 attendees at the DOE’s Small Business Forum and Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 11-12, 2023.

In just five minutes, each startup packed a presentation detailing their technology, market opportunity and strategy, business model, and team. Reviewers scored presentation skills, content, and investment potential before arriving at the five winners representing five states across the country.

Hosted by OTT in conjunction with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the American-Made Challenges, the event “furthers OTT’s mission to enhance economic competitiveness, leadership in innovation, and transformative, impactful technologies throughout the nation,” said Victor Kane, OTT’s Deputy Director for Commercialization Programs

Spanning the two days of the competition, speeches were delivered by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, OSBDU Director Ron Pierce, OTT Director Dr. Vanessa Chan, OTT Deputy Director for Commercialization Programs Victor Kane, and American-Made Challenges Prize Lead Eli Cain from NREL.

The Winners

With input from the pitch reviewers, OTT and OSDBU awarded more than $160,000 to those with the highest-potential tech energy innovation. Inspired by the promising ideas of these startups, the DOE’s OSDBU doubled EPIC’s prize pool.

First Place: KLAW Industries KLAW Industries developed Pantheon™, a high-quality, partial cement replacement made from post-consumer glass. By adding additional crystal structures to concrete, Pantheon™ strengthens it and allows concrete producers to reduce cement content, saving costs and lowering carbon emissions. Klaw Industries aims to provide material solutions that benefit the concrete and recycling industries while helping to combat carbon emissions. KLAW Industries won $100,000.

Second Place: Renewell Energy Renewell Energy’s technology can repurpose inactive oil wells and convert them into a renewable energy storage network, which addresses environmental hazards, reduces costs, and creates long-term revenue for well owners. With their patented process, they are transforming oil and gas liabilities into renewable energy assets, contributing to sustainability and economic benefit. Renewell won $40,000.

Third Place: C-Motive Technologies, Inc. C-Motive is commercializing a sustainable, high-efficiency electrostatic motor to decarbonize industrial and e-mobility applications. Their innovative motors and generators offer modular, scalable, and customizable solutions with lower environmental impact, reduced carbon emissions, and a diverse regional supply chain. C-Motive won $20,000.

Fourth Place: ReJoule ReJoule is supporting the all-electric revolution by maximizing the value of batteries. Their technology enables speedy and accurate diagnostics of battery health, making it easier for automakers to monitor and repurpose batteries to accelerate the transition to clean energy. ReJoule won $5,000.

Fifth Place: Plantd Plantd is providing carbon-negative materials for new homes and buildings. By harnessing the power of perennial grass and innovative manufacturing techniques, they are creating stronger, lighter, and more affordable building panels that lock away carbon. Plantd won $3,500.

EPIC pitch competition winner receives award.
With a roaring audience’s support, first place winner and co-founder of KLAW Industries, Jacob Kumpon, receiving a check from Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, OTT Director Dr. Vanessa Chan, and OSDBU Director Ron Pierce. Photo by Leo Boczar

Bonus Prize

Koffman Southern Tier Incubator—who entered the first-place winner, KLAW Industries, into the competition—also received a cash prize of $25,000 for identifying this stellar competitor. Koffman Southern Tier Incubator is located in Binghamton, New York, and serves as a hub for start-ups in the region, while providing working areas, mentorship, and resources that inspire individuals and companies to create and develop transformational products.

The Other Startups

The three remaining startups each showcased impressive technologies that are driving sustainability forward in our nation:

ElectricFish - ElectricFish is building resilient energy infrastructure for communities. Their networked energy storage solutions enable fast electric vehicle charging, providing up to 170 miles of range in just 10 minutes using renewable energy. Using a data-powered approach and proprietary AI model, they identify vulnerable grid locations to maximize resilience impact, while their energy storage devices act as flexible resources, preventing grid congestion and providing backup power as needed.

New Iridium - New Iridium is decarbonizing the chemical industry through their light-driven photocatalysis technology. By efficiently upcycling carbon and combining it with alternative feedstocks, they produce green, lower-cost versions of commodity chemicals while significantly reducing carbon emissions from chemical manufacturing.

Superclean Glass Inc. - Superclean Glass Inc.’s waterless, self-cleaning technology removes dust from solar panels (which reduces energy output) and regains up to 95% of lost energy, addressing the inefficiencies, expenses, and sustainability concerns associated with manual labor and water-based cleaning methods. Their solution is focused on utility-scale solar installations in desert regions, saving significant energy costs and conserving billions of gallons of potable water over the panels’ lifetime.

Beyond cash prizes, all eight startups had the opportunity of a lifetime to pitch to a diverse audience of investors, government officials, national labs, and small businesses, making meaningful connections and networks for their businesses and big ideas.

Presenter makes pitch on stage at OSDBU Small Business Forum and Expo
Chern-Hooi Lim, Founder and CEO of New Irdium, pitching to the reviewers and audience. Photo by Leo Boczar

Up Next

The EPIC Prize Round 2 finalists are in their final phase of the EPIC Prize competition, competing head-to-head for a $500,000 grand prize by demonstrating successful achievement of their planned goals. This final Prove It! phase of the EPIC competition will close on October 5, 2023.

Learn More

The American-Made program fast-tracks innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring, connecting the nation's entrepreneurs and innovators to America's national labs and the private sector. Teams competing in the EPIC Prize Round 2 will have access to the American-Made Network, which provides mentoring, tools, resources, and support to accelerate the transition of ideas into real-world solutions to achieve clean energy goals. 

The EPIC Prize is administered by NREL and is part of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) program that provides funds and support to place-based incubators to encourage the robust growth of regional energy innovation ecosystems across the United States. NREL is the Prize Administrator for this prize. In this role, NREL will disburse prize funds upon receipt from DOE. Email with any questions.