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The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), EPIC Round 3 is a $4 million competitive funding program for the nation’s most innovative incubators supporting energy innovation clusters. EPIC Round 3 awards cash prizes and a three-year cooperative agreement to regional incubator teams that submit the most creative and impactful plans, then implement those plans to develop strong programming, connections, and support for energy startups and entrepreneurs. 

Technology startups require more than capital to launch, grow, and scale their innovations. Incubators provide the mentorship, technology validation, business development, connections to manufacturers, and other resources, that are critical to a startup’s success. The prize seeks to address a capital gap in supporting these incubators by providing both short-term financial gains through a prize competition and a multi-year, stable funding program to be applied where domestic incubators need it most. 

The new approach to EPIC—combining a prize competition with a cooperative agreement negotiation with OTT—encourages bold and impactful ideas, while providing incubators with the long-term funding needed to scale those ideas. Together with OTT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who manages the EPIC Round 3, these incubators will strengthen the small business ecosystem in the United States and advance our clean energy future.  

Prize Structure 

EPIC Round 3 is comprised of three phases to support energy incubators and accelerators: 

  • Phase 1: Competitors will create a plan to support energy startups and entrepreneurs and define their metrics for success. Up to 20 competitors will win $150,000 each. 
  • Phase 2: Phase 1 finalists will begin to implement their novel programming and create a continuation plan worthy of selection for a cooperative agreement. Select Phase 2 winners will then be invited to negotiate a cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million. 
  • Phase 3: Winning teams will negotiate their three-year cooperative agreement with OTT. 

Phase 2 will include two pitch competitions in which all past and present EPIC incubators can nominate energy startups for a chance to win up to $210,000 total. 

EPIC Round 3 Timeline

Important Dates 

  • Phase 1 
    • Submission opens: September 26, 2023 
    • Submission deadline (anticipated): February 9, 2024
  • Phase 2 
    • Submission opens (anticipated): April 1, 2024 
    • Submission deadline (anticipated): September 30, 2024 
  • 3-Year Cooperative Agreement 
    • Negotiated between October 1-December 31, 2024 (anticipated) 

All dates and deadlines for this funding program are subject to change, including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Sign up for updates on HeroX, the official competition platform. 

Who is Eligible to Compete? 

OTT welcomes incubator organizations that aid in the development of new business ventures, business accelerators, co-working startup communities, or any other organizations that self-identify as advocates for innovation and entrepreneurship to compete in EPIC Round 3. This funding program is open to private entities (for profits and nonprofits) and academic institutions that meet all eligibility requirements.  

  • Private entities must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. 
  • Programming proposed by incubators must have an emphasis on supporting startups with a hard-tech focus.  
  • While National Laboratories are not eligible to compete, they may support teams in the competition if they are engaging the teams in compliance with lab partnership requirements.  

For more information, review the official prize rules. 

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