Department of Energy American-Made Challenges Communications Support


Ensemble recently supported two prize challenges as part of the American-Made Challenges initiative: the Digitizing Utilities Prize Round 2 and the Lab MATCH Prize. These competitions are backed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity and the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. Both prizes served as catalysts for fostering innovation and collaboration in key sectors of the economy, particularly in areas such as energy, cybersecurity, and data science. As a Power Connector, Ensemble plays a pivotal role in the execution, recruitment, and support of prize programs. Our efforts extend the reach and enhance the diversity and inclusivity of the network overall. 


Digitizing Utilities Prize:

Round 2 of the Digitizing Utilities Prize, with a total initiative of $1.85 million, focuses on revolutionizing digital systems and data analytics in the energy sector. This round specifically emphasizes cybersecurity solutions to address the escalating risks to critical infrastructure. Through collaboration between utilities and diverse software developers, the competition seeks to enhance data management, utilization, and security in the face of increasing data streams from advanced sensor technologies.


Lab MATCH Prize:

The Lab MATCH Prize, a $620K competition funded by the Technology Commercialization Fund, targets the acceleration of licensing and commercialization of intellectual property (IP) from national laboratories. Innovators collaborate directly with labs like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This competition encourages solutions that facilitate the translation of laboratory research into commercial products and services. With a focus on domestic manufacturing and economic impact, Phase 1 of the Lab MATCH Prize saw a total of 19 winning teams from across the United States, each representing a range of National Lab partners and IP topic areas.


Our Approach:

As a supporting Power Connector tasked with recruiting capable and diverse innovators, Ensemble employed a strategic communications approach involving comprehensive market scanning, personalized email outreach, and impactful social media amplification.


Market Scan:

For both prizes, our team conducted extensive market scans to identify relevant projects, programs, and amplifiers. For the Digitizing Utilities Prize, our team identified 1,534 relevant entities in the energy sector, while for the Lab MATCH Prize, our team identified 1,529 relevant contacts in the cybersecurity and data science sector. These entities span across various types of solvers, including academia, non-profit organizations, larger companies, and small/startups. Each type of solver brings its own set of strengths and resources to the table, contributing to a diverse and dynamic innovation ecosystem.


Email Outreach:

Our email outreach strategy targeted potential applicants and amplifiers identified during the market scan. We personalized email content based on recipient engagement and organizational context. Intensified outreach efforts in the final weeks resulted in increased engagement on the challenge pages for both competitions.


Social Media Amplification:

Active promotion across social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter played a crucial role in increasing visibility and engagement for both challenges. Our outreach efforts amplified the American-Made Challenges across various social media platforms, driving interest and participation in these innovative competitions. 


Sample imagery developed by Ensemble for Lab MATCH prize 




Digitizing Utilities: Round 2


At the conclusion of Phase 1, a total of 62 teams and 294 innovators were registered on the Digitizing Utilities Challenge page. This phase was designed to equip teams with the necessary preparation to advance into Phase 2 – Progress.


Phase 1 focused on identifying and proposing solutions to key challenges in utility digitization and cybersecurity. Teams collaborated with utility partners to address specific data and cybersecurity challenges, aiming to provide innovative and actionable solutions. 


Winners and Prizes Categories:

  • Track 1: Utility Digitization/Data Challenge
    • Number of Winners: Up to 8
    • Prize Amount: $75,000 each
  • Track 2: Utility Cybersecurity Challenge
    • Number of Winners: Up to 6
    • Prize Amount: $75,000 each

Winners selected in these tracks will demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the problems and showcase their ability to leverage available resources to address these challenges effectively. Stayed tuned for an update on Phase 1 Winners in July! 

Sample imagery developed by Ensemble for Digitizing Utilities Round 2 


Lab MATCH Prize 


Phase 1 of the Lab MATCH Prize resulted in 33 teams and 225 innovators registering on the challenge platform, leading to 19 Phase 1 winners. Each winning team was awarded $2,500 for their work in the initial Commitment Phase, where they developed viable licensing and commercialization plans for their selected National Lab intellectual property. In Phase 2, the Plan Phase, these teams will create comprehensive engagement plans that include actionable steps, partners, and a timeline.


Phase 1 Winners 

  • Active Surfaces Inc. (Woburn, MA)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Photovoltaic (PV) 
  • All Drone Science (Gresham, OR)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Photovoltaic (PV) 
  • ATOMIQ (Pittsfield, MA)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Aerospace
  • Brick City Energy (Saint Louis, MO)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Energy Storage 
  • Diesel heads (Weston, FL)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Transportation 
  • Expanding Frontiers (Brownsville, TX)
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Carbon Capture 
  • Gold Standard Radiation Detection, Inc. (Albuquerque, NM)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Security & Defense 
  • GridFlow (Albuquerque, NM)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Energy Storage
  • Joliet Commercialization Coalition (Joliet, MT)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Wind 
  • Leaf Automation (Akron, OH)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Photovoltaic (PV) 
  • Liquidmetal (Chattanooga, TN)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Concentrated Solar 
  • Marsan Technology (Milledgeville, GA)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Buildings 
  • Maveena Energy (Frisco, TX)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Buildings 
  • NanoSieve (Miami Beach, FL)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Gas Absorption 
  • Ourobio (Indianapolis, IN)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Biogas 
  • Team JG (Seattle, WA)
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Photovoltaic (PV) 
  • TerraLoop (Durham, North Carolina)
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling 
  • ThermoVers (Detroit, MI)
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Buildings 
  • Torpel (Charlottesville, VA)
    Sandia National Laboratory – Energy Storage 

Imagery from: