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Innovation

EPA Challenges & Prizes

  Challenge Title Description of challenge Outcome Status
Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge  EPA and partners seek demonstrations of the effective use of low-cost sensors, innovative partnerships to pilot the sensors and data management, and show how collected data and information can be used in state and local decision-making.  Registration open. Winners announced Spring 2019. Registration open
campus rainworks challenge logo Campus Rainworks Challenge EPA is hosting the sixth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge. This is a green infrastructure design competition for American colleges and universities that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about effective stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

Registration open September 1-30, 2018.  Submissions due December 14, 2018. Winners announced Spring 2019.

Registration closed, Submissions due 12/14/2018
Wildfire logo Wildland Fire Sensors ChallengeExit EPA and five other federal agencies issued this challenge to improve smoke monitoring and provide data to protect public health. Sensor developers and researchers were encouraged to develop new and innovative air sensor monitoring technologies to measure air pollutants from smoke during wildland fires.  Winners announced. Completed
Nitrogen Sensor Graphic Advanced Septic Nitrogen Sensor ChallengeExit EPA and partners seek to identify and spur development of technologies to monitor nitrogen concentration in effluent from wastewater treatment systems. This will help ensure that advanced septic nitrogen removal system are effective. Applications due December 7, 2018 Registration Open
water glass Arsenic Sensor Challenge Exit In collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation, EPA is seeking ideas for new or improved sensors, devices, or test kits to test for arsenic in water within natural and engineered systems with the goal of improving performance and ease of use as well as reducing waste production. Winners Announced March 2, 2018 Completed
  Regulations.gov Data Challenge Use TopCoder Exitto receive an application that makes regulations of interest more discoverable and provide commenters with useful information. Conducted in a live competition environment November 2016. Completed
Transform Tox Testing Challenge Stage 2 Exit EPA and the National Institutes of Health(NIH) launched a challenge that to award up to $1 million to improve the relevance and predictivity of data generated from automated chemical screening technology used for toxicity testing. Winners announced November of 2017 Completed
EPA Seal Smart City Air Challenge Exit EPA’s Smart City Air Challenge encourages communities to deploy hundreds of air quality sensors and make the resulting data open. In December 2016, Baltimore and Lafayette both won the challenge and received $40,000 each as seed funding to implement their projects. Winners announced. Completed
campus rainworks challenge logo

Campus RainWorks Challenge

2012 - 2016

This is a green infrastructure design competition for American colleges and universities that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about effective stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices. The challenge is hosted annually.

2018 Registration Closed, Entries Due December 14, 2018

2015: Winners announced

2014: Winners announced.

2013: Winners announced. 

2012: Winners announced.

Entries Due December 14, 2018
TRI challenge logo

2016 TRI University Challenge Exit

2016

EPA is issuing a challenge to the academic community. Find new, innovative, and creative ways to use Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data and related information to promote more informed decision-making and action on the part of communities, manufacturers, and government.  Winners Announced  Completed
Visualize Your Water challenge identifier

Visualize Your Water Exit

2016

In collaboration with U.S. Geological Survey, high school students in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay States are challenged to use open government data sources to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations.  Winners announced April 21, 2016. Completed
Transform Tox Testing Challenge image

Transform Tox Testing Stage 1 Exit

2016

EPA and the National Institutes of Health(NIH) launched a challenge that will award up to $1 million to improve the relevance and predictivity of data generated from automated chemical screening technology used for toxicity testing. Stage 1 closed, see Stage 2 above Completed
Nutrient Recycling Challenge logo

Nutrient Recycling Challenge Exit

2015

EPA is partnering with pork and dairy producers, USDA, and environmental and scientific experts to host a competition to find technologies that can recycle nutrients from livestock waste and create valuable products. Winners Announced March 30, 2016 Completed 
The nutrient sensor challenge logo.

Nutrient Sensor Challenge - Phase 2 Exit

2015

Sensor-developer teams from Phase 1 of the challenge were asked to submit applications for final verification testing of nitrogen and phosphorus sensors.  Winners Announced March 3, 2017  Completed
Visualizing Nutrients calls for solvers to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations that inform individuals and communities on nutrient pollution.

Visualizing Nutrients Challenge Exit

2015

The USGS, US EPA, and Blue Legacy International challenge Solvers to utilize open government data sources to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations that inform individuals and communities on nutrient pollution and inspire them to take action.  Winners announced August 2015. Completed
The nutrient sensor challenge logo.

Nutrient Sensor Challenge - Phase 1 Exit

2014

The Nutrient Sensor Challenge aimed to accelerate the development, production, and use of affordable, reliable, and accurate nutrient sensors. These sensors will enable automated and high-resolution nutrient monitoring in aquatic environments ranging from freshwater lakes and streams to the coastal ocean.

See Phase 2 above Completed
TRI challenge logo

2015 TRI University Challenge

2015

EPA is issuing a challenge to the academic community. Find new, innovative, and creative ways to use Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data and related information to promote more informed decision-making and action on the part of communities, manufacturers, and government.  Winners announced  Completed
SunWise Poster Contest logo

SunWise with SHADE Poster Contest

2012 - 2014

This challenge encouraged young students (K-8) to submit original, creative posters illustrating ways to prevent skin cancer and raise sun safety awareness.  Winners Announced Completed
"Climate Change in Focus" student video contest

"Climate Change in Focus" student video contest

2014

This contest challenged studetnds to create a video that describes how climate change affects them, their family, friends, and community. Winners announced. Completed
Algal Bloom Photo Contest

Algal Bloom Photo Contest

2014

Facebook and Instagram were used to document algal blooms spotted in waters. Conestents submitted photos of algal blooms where they live, vacation, and recreate with a hastag Winners Selected  Completed
National Aquatic Resource Surveys Campus Research Challenge

National Aquatic Resource Surveys Campus Research Challenge

2014

This challenge encourages students to develop proposals for research projects that find innovative was to use National Aquatic Resrouce Survey data about the condition of the nation's waterways. The goal is to enhance external, innovative research and information development to support enhanced water management at multiple scales. Phase I winners announced. Completed
EPA ToxCast Challenge

EPA ToxCast Challenge Exit

2014

This challenge worked to Identify a group of chemical properties and structural descriptors to quantitatively predict a chemical’s lowest effect level (LEL) for toxicity. This could help build a useful model based on EPA data to help set exposure limits.

Winners have been announced.

See a video. Exit

Completed
Challenging Nutrients ideation

Challenging Nutrients Exit

2013

Participants were asked to submit innovative, next-generation ideas that could lead to a fundamental change in the way we manage or recover nutrients.

Three winners proposed various solutions including new modeling, real-time management, and paid incentives.

Completed
Real-Time Sensor to Monitor Sewer Overflows

Real-Time Sensor to Monitor Sewer Overflows Exit

2013

This challege look for ideas for an efficient, low-cost and low-maintenance real-time sensor to monitor sewer overflows in urban areas. This information can help monitor local waterways and characterize wet-weather impact on  urban sewers.

The overall winner combined water-level sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and a cellphone radio for real-time updates. 

Completed
TRI University Challenge

TRI University Challenge

2013 - 2015

EPA is issuing a challenge to the academic community. Find new, innovative, and creative ways to use Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data and related information to promote more informed decision-making and action on the part of communities, manufacturers, and government. 

Winners by year. Completed
My Air, My Health Challenge

My Air, My Health Challenge Exit

2012

This challenge asked participants to submit ideas for personal devices to collect both air quality and physiological data to examine the link between environmetnal and personal health.

Conscious Clothing used a particulate matter air sensor and stretchy fabric strips to estimate pollution exposure.

Completed 
Stand Alone Field Measurement of Atmospheric Benzene & Butadiene

Stand Alone Field Measurement of Atmospheric Benzene & Butadiene  Exit

2012

Design sensitive, reproducible and rapid field-based monitoring systems that measured atmospheric benzene and 1,3 butadiene at low concentrations.

The winning solution combined imprinted polymers and carbon nanotubes.  Completed
Tracking Molecular Components of Electronics

Tracking Molecular Components of Electronics Exit

2012

This ideation challenge looked at Identifying concepts that could enable the development of a "molecular bill of materials" for electronic products and components. This could help consumers be more aware of the chemicals used in everyday electronic devices.

The overall winner used distributed information gathering. Three secondary winners used barcodes, radio frequency identification, and a system of standards and databases. 

Completed
Recovering Bacillus Spores from Swabs

Recovering Bacillus Spores from Swabs Exit

2012

Participants submitted protocols for efficient recovery of bacterial spores from pre-wetted surface sampling tools. This will allow for more effective detection and quantification of hazardous biological materials before they become a public health risk.

The winning process: remove spores from swabs with a solvent, concentrate on a membrane, and blot between two pieces of membrane.

Completed
Six Words for the Planet competition

Six Words for the Planet

2012

Participants can celebrate the environment by sharing flash fiction: six-word essays about what the environment means to them. Submissions could be shared on EPA social media and published in Smith Magazine. Recognition. Completed
Detection and Analysis of Ambient Concentrations of Acrolein

Detection and Analysis of Ambient Concentrations of Acrolein Exit

2011

The challenge was about finding methods for  low-cost, rapid-analysis  detection of trace quantities of acrolein in the atmosphere.

No solution satisfied the requirements.  Completed
Apps for the Environment Challenge

Apps for the Environment Challenge Exit

2011

Participants in this challenge looked at publicly available EPA data to come up with the most innovative way to use, show, or combine the data in an app. The goal was to find creative ways to think about what data EPA collects, how it is used, and increase public understanding of that data.

Best Overall: 
Light Bulb Finder

Best Student App: EarthFriend

Popular Choice: CGSearch

Completed
Efficient Technologies/ Methodologies for Measuring the Reduction of Pollution from Nonpoint Sources

Efficient Technologies/ Methodologies for Measuring the Reduction of Pollution from Nonpoint Sources  Exit

2011

The goal of this challenge was to develop or identify technologies and methodologies to measure the performance of management systems that would reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, and/or sediment pollution loads.

No solution satisfied the requirements. Completed
It's My Environment Video Project

It's My Environment Video Project Exit

2011

Participants were asked to share a video clip up to 10 seconds long of someone doing something for the environment, then reading and passing along a sign that says "It's My Environment."  Recognition.  Completed
State of the Environment Photo Project

State of the Environment Photo Project

2011-2013

This project featured photos desinged to showcase our lives and our planet and was open from Earth Day 2011 through 2013. Photos were showcased on Flickr for people to view. Recognition. Completed
Help Fight Environmental Crime challenge

Help Fight Environmental Crime 

2010

Students who are members of Native American tribes submitted artwork depicting what they think environmental damage looks like.  Recognition. Completed
Game Day Recycling Challenge

Game Day Recycling Challenge Exit

2010-2014

Colleges and universities participate by promoting waste reduction at their home football games. The can then and track and report waste reductions as they implement waste reduction strategies. Winners by year.Exit 2018 Registration open until Sunday, Nov 4th, 2018
National Radon Poster Contest

National Radon Poster Contest Exit

2007-2015

Student leaders raise radon awareness among their family, school and community by submitting posters depicting key information about radon. Winners by yearExit Completed
Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest

Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest

2007-2013

Intergenerational teams submit their expressions of wonder about the environment through photos, essays, songs, poetry, mixed media and dance. Winners by year. Completed
Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

1996-2014

The awards recognize innovative technologies that incorporate green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use and help advance the protection of human health and the environment.   Completed