The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) has named the grand prize winners in the American-Made Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC) Prize Round 2. Four incubators were each awarded $500,000 in cash prizes for delivering the most creative and impactful plans to develop strong programming, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs. 

“These four incubators are poised for far-reaching impact in their respective regions, and we are excited to support the momentum they have already built.” said Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan, Chief Commercialization Officer for DOE. “The EPIC Prize will really help the entrepreneurs in these incubators bring their technologies to market faster.”

This was the third and final phase in a year-long competition that disbursed $4 million in cash prizes to help regional incubators fund vital activities like entrepreneur mentorship, technology validation, business development, and more to strengthen America’s clean energy future.

EPIC Prise Tracks

The Prove It! Winners

A panel of expert reviewers evaluated submissions and interviewed the 10 finalists to assess whether they had successfully accomplished their planned goals. Many focused on diverse and underserved communities, driving significant impact for those disproportionately affected by climate change. All demonstrated a commitment to supporting local energy startups and driving regional innovation.

The following winners each won $500,000 for their outstanding accomplishments:

  1. The Deployment Engine (Charleston, WV) – ADL Ventures is creating a low-carbon, mass deployment accelerator that connects innovative decarbonization technologies with construction industry customers and deployment opportunities in Appalachia. 
  2. REACHing founders @ the Food, Energy & Water Nexus (Fort Collins, CO) – REACH's accelerator is dedicated to supporting founders at the nexus of food, water, and energy through innovative programming and embedded entrepreneurs-in-training (EITs).
  3. Energy & Mobility Innovation in Michigan (Hadley, MA and Detroit, MI) – Ascend by VentureWell bridges the gap between customer discovery and investment readiness in partnership with TechTown Detroit by focusing high-touch support for entrepreneurs focusing on emissions reductions, smart mobility technologies, and infrastructure development.
  4. LabStart: Accessibility to Lab IP Entrepreneurship (Golden, CO) – LabStart is helping launch and accelerate clean energy companies led by people from underrepresented communities and based on technology from DOE National Laboratories.
EPIC Round 2 Winners Mapped

EPIC Prize Pitch Competition

In parallel with the Move It! and Prove It! phases of the competition, competing incubators also nominated a startup of their choice to compete in the EPIC Prize Pitch Competition over the summer. Hosted in New Orleans at the DOE Small Business Forum and Expo, eight startups took to the stage to pitch their clean energy technologies to four industry experts and an audience of more than 1,000 investors, government officials, national labs, and small businesses.

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

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm delivered an inspiring speech and presented checks to the five startups that won over $160,000 for their groundbreaking technologies:

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.

Up Next: EPIC Round 3

The EPIC Round 3 is a two-phase competitive funding program will award $4 million to the nation’s most innovative incubators supporting energy startups and entrepreneurs. As a new addition in Round 3, incubators will compete for extended financial support in the form of a three-year cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million. Additionally, competing incubators will share the national spotlight with their startups in two pitch competitions. Learn more from the recording of the EPIC Round 3 informational webinar on:

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 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 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is part of OTT's broader 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.

About the Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions 

The Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) is one of the largest supporters of technology commercialization in the federal government. Founded in 2015, OTT bolsters the technology industry's market skills and enables clean energy technologies to progress through research, development, demonstration, and to deployment into the private sector to meet our nation’s climate goals. Visit us at to learn more and subscribe to receive our latest opportunities and accomplishments via email. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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