U.S. Department of Energy Announces New $2.5M Prize to Support Diversity in Innovation

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) launched its new Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize (IEIP) awarding up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to underrepresented groups in climate technology.

The prize money will go towards helping organizations and groups supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in communities that have been underrepresented in climate and energy technology funding for years.

A recent study found just over 1% of $1 billion in philanthropic funding went to energy-justice focused organizations last year. Additionally, the study revealed  information about proper procedures during the request for applications process and inadequate access to funding act as barries preventing underrepresented organizations from being considered for funding opportunities.

To change things, the IEIP will create an inclusive and just innovation ecosystem in climate and energy technologies. The prize money will support underrepresented groups and organizations with ongoing or proposed incubation, acceleration and other community based innovation services. The funds will also help lower barriers of entry for DoE funding opportunities and other forms of assistance for first time applicants.

The $2.5 million in prize money will be split among ten organizations, allowing them to:

  • Assist organizations with activities that support, build trust and strengthen relationships and partnerships with underrepresented, underserved communities.   
  • Enable and enhance business and technology incubation, acceleration, and other community-based and university-based entrepreneurship and innovation in climate and clean energy technologies.  
  • Enable clean energy and climate research, commercialization, and entrepreneurship programming and capabilities at colleges and universities that serve large populations of students underrepresented in STEM, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, and undergraduate institutions. 
  • Foster grassroots innovation related to just and equitable clean energy deployment through activities focusing on community-centric networks and bottom-up solutions for sustainable development, based on the needs of the communities involved  
  • Identify and fund activities that will help traditionally underrepresented groups become aware of, apply into and receive DOE funding, in support of DOE’s Justice40 goals 
  • Support community-serving organizations to develop replicable clean energy transitions based on renewable energy and associated opportunities 

The IEIP supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative to put environmental and economic justice at the center of America’s transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.

Interested parties can learn more about DoE’s IEIP and how to get involved here.