Friday Jan 27, 2023

American-Made Solar Prize Round 5 Finalists Have Been Announced – NREL

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10 Hardware Track and 10 Software Track Teams Advance to the Final Contest


On April 22, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the 20 finalist teams moving
forward in the American-Made Solar Prize Round 5. After pitching their concepts for
solar innovation during Set! Demo Day events, 10 hardware-focused and 10 software-focused
teams were named finalists and awarded cash prizes.

Now in its fifth round, the multimillion-dollar American-Made Solar Prize competition was designed to inspire innovations in the solar industry that can help
build a better, more reliable, and resilient solar future. Competing teams are tasked
with identifying a critical solar industry challenge and creating a commercially viable
solution in the span of months.

The Solar Prize is composed of three consecutive contests—Ready!, Set!, and Go!—during
which teams quickly advance their technologies in the hopes of earning prizes and
expediting the innovation process.

“The innovations we see from competitors in the American-Made Solar Prize each year
are incredibly inspiring,” said Garrett Nilsen, acting director of the U.S. Department
of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. “And we need all innovators now more than
ever if we’re going to expand solar’s accessibility to Americans and meet our net-zero
goals. Congratulations to these teams, and we look forward to seeing where they can
take their products.”

New This Round: Hardware and Software Tracks

The Solar Prize has always placed an emphasis on manufacturing solar innovation, but
after four successful rounds focused primarily on tangible technologies, prize administrators
saw the need to split the fifth round into two tracks: the Hardware Track and the
Software Track. Both follow the same prize structure but allow competitors to stay
in different lanes to bring both hardware and software products closer to market.

Competitors in the Hardware Track are focused on designing a physical component, manufacturing
process, or producible product that benefits the solar industry. Software Track Teams
are targeting communications, computation, data systems, information technology, or
business models with a software focus that help accelerate solar power implementation.
Teams in the Software Track can also opt to participate in the Justice, Equity, Diversity,
and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, which focuses on advancing solar adoption in underserved
communities, for additional cash prizes.

Round 5 launched in summer 2021, and teams submitted their initial concepts in October.
The competitor pool was whittled down to 40 semifinalists in December, after which
teams began work on revising and refining their innovations in preparation for Set!
Demo Day, where they shared their progress with expert reviewers. Hardware Track teams
were asked to show progress in developing and demonstrating early-stage proofs of
concept, while Software Track teams were required to demonstrate minimum viable products.

On April 22, 20 teams of innovators and entrepreneurs were selected to move on in
the Solar Prize Round 5. New to Round 5 is the separation of hardware and software
technologies, allowing more participants to earn cash prizes at each contest of the
competition.

Announcing the Finalists

The 10 Hardware Track finalists were each awarded $100,000 in cash prizes and $75,000
in support vouchers to use at national laboratories and other partner facilities to
continue advancing their innovation from proof of concept to prototype. Software Track
finalists received $60,000 each, and three teams received an additional $33,333 for
winning the optional JEDI Contest. The finalist teams will now move on to compete
in the final stage of the competition, the Go! Contest.

Congratulations to the Solar Prize Round 5 finalist teams:

Hardware Track

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