WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Energy recently launched a $3 million prize to revitalize domestic solar panel manufacturing. The program will support entrepreneurs as they develop transformative ideas into concepts and then into early-stage prototypes ready for industry testing.

A series of three successive prize contests are designed to develop new types of made-in-America products. Competitors will have access to mentoring and other supportive resources through a network of national labs, incubators, investors and industry experts.

“The Trump Administration is fully committed to strengthening America’s manufacturing competitiveness,” says Rick Perry, secretary of energy. “The Solar Prize brings together the nation’s best-in-class research resources, unparalleled entrepreneurial support system and competitive, American spirit to create new innovations primed for private investment.”

“We share this desire for strong American solar manufacturing, and this prize competition is a good way to spur innovative ideas,” adds Abigail Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The U.S. solar industry is a leader in entrepreneurship and ingenuity, and we support efforts like these that can pave the way to competitiveness for American companies.”

To win the final prize, participants must identify an impactful solution that addresses critical challenges related to American solar competitiveness, create a proof of concept and secure a committed partner to test a prototype.

Competitors will also participate in demo days, where they will pitch their idea to a team of expert reviewers who will evaluate competitors based on the quality of their solution and the progress made during the contest period.

Applications must be submitted by Oct. 5. To learn more, click www.doe.gov.eere.