American-Made Challenges

Manufacturing Accelerator for U.S. Domestic Energy and Global Business Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a challenge-based prize competition in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to reenergize innovation in U.S. manufacturing. The American-Made Challenges incentivize the nation's entrepreneurs to reassert American leadership in the energy marketplace. These new challenges seek to lower the barriers U.S.-based innovators face in reaching manufacturing scale by accelerating the cycles of learning from years to weeks, while helping to create partnerships that connect entrepreneurs to the private sector and the network of DOE's National Laboratories across the nation.

The American-Made Challenges will bring together the world's best in class research base with its unparalleled entrepreneurial support system consisting of pioneering maker spaces, dozens of energy incubators and 17 National Laboratories to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations primed for private investment and commercial scale up.


1Ideation & Network Activation
2Prototyping, Partnering & Iteration
3Incubation, Scaling, Manufacturing

Who can participate?

Entrepreneurs, technologists, software and hardware developers, incubators and accelerators, and investors are all welcome and encouraged to join the network and be part of the ground-breaking change that will accelerate innovation in solar technologies and manufacturing approaches.

When can I participate in this prize challenge?

NREL and DOE are working to launch the first prize, focused on solar! Please visit the challenge page to pre-register and follow the challenge to learn more about start dates and guidelines. In the meantime, you can visit the American-Made Solar Prize to learn more or contact us.

How will innovation be accelerated?

The American-Made Challenges combine existing world-leading capabilities with an entrepreneurial engine to accelerate ahead of international competitors. It will leverage the 3D printing and small batch manufacturing facilities that exist across the country to speed up innovation cycles through rapid prototyping and iteration. Testing and development capabilities of the National Labs will bring world-class research expertise and analytic tools to U.S. entrepreneurs. The program encourages connections through local business incubators to expand access to capital that help businesses rapidly scale up.

In November 2017, Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, authorized Agreements for Commercializing Technology (ACT) for National Laboratories, which enables new, flexible financial and business arrangements between industry and national labs. Using this mechanism, DOE can efficiently move innovations from idea to commercialization faster than has been typically historically possible for government funding arrangements.

The Office of Management and Budget Guidance on R&D budget priorities highlights the importance of optimally utilizing our R&D infrastructure to significantly contribute to American technology and economic leadership. The Challenges are an innovative partnership model reflecting an increased reliance on and engagement with the private sector.

The National Security Strategy issued December 2017 highlights the importance of business/technology innovation and manufacturing competitiveness, which supports the state-of-the-art concept of the American-Made Challenges.