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DHS Prize Challenges

Prize competitions are a way to crowdsource and engage citizen inventors directly to find interesting ideas or solutions to some of the toughest homeland security challenges. In fact, the government has used prize competitions for hundreds of years. The White House and U.S. Capitol designs were results of prize competitions.

DHS Administers prize competitions and challenges under the America COMPETES Act, Challenges are open to individuals who are over the age of 18 and are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents at the time of submission, and to U.S. entities that are incorporated in and whose primary place of business is in the United States. Contestants are highly encouraged to read over the prize competition and Challenge instructions, including eligibility to enter the prize, rules, and submission requirements. Compliance with the Challenge instructions is subject to verification by DHS. This verification occurs before cash prizes are awarded.  S&T, as the delegated authority, supports prize competitions throughout DHS.

White House Releases Federal Prize and Citizen Science Authority Report

Front Picture of Report with Presidential Seal: Executive Office of the President of the United States | Implementation of Federal Prize and Citizen science Authority: Fiscal Years 2019-20 | A Report by the Office of Science & Technology Policy | In Response to the Requirements of the American COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 and the Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act March 2022

Recently, the White House Office of Science and Technology released the Implementation of Federal Prize and Citizen Science Authority for Fiscal Years 2019-20 report. This biennial report to Congress details recent federal efforts to stimulate innovation and partnership and expand the American public’s participation in prize competitions and citizen science. Many exciting examples of prizes, challenges, crowdsourcing and citizen science projects are highlighted in the report. Find out how to access the report and learn more!



Announcing the Cooling Solutions Finalists!

(Map of United States) Text: The Cooling Soluiton | 13 Finalists Announced

In celebration of Earth Day 2022, we’ve announced the 13 finalists in the Cooling Solutions Challenge. Launched in September 2021 by DHS Science & Technology and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this $195,000 prize competition is designed to find groundbreaking cooling solutions to counter extreme heat facing communities across the country.


The 13 finalists will each receive a prize of $5,000 and advance to the next round of judging. The finalists are eligible to win additional cash prizes, including a Grand Prize of $50,000. They are:

  • CalidGear: Wearable Thermoregulatory Device (Tayyaba Ali, Wilmette, IL)
  • Aspirator Assisted Cooling (Roland Bruyns, Madison, AL)
  • Improved Cooling Textiles for Clothing, Solar Shades, and Temporary Structures (Don Chernoff, Small World Sciences LLC, Morrisville, NC)
  • High-Efficiency Portable AC for Preventing Heat-Related Stress (Sorin Grama, CEO, Transaera Inc., Somerville, MA)
  • Radiative Cooling of Structures (Hal Greenberger, Better Stuff LLC, Natick, MA)
  • The Evaporation Enhancer (Team: SNJ, Corona, CA)
  • Hybrid Cooling Wrap (Team: Young Ko, Evelyn N. Wang, and Jeffrey C. Grossman, Cambridge, MA)
  • Continuous Bending-Mode Elastocaloric Cooling Loop (Barrow Green, LLC, Bethesda, MD)
  • Ultra-Efficient Air Conditioning via Liquid Desiccant Dehumidification and Evaporative Cooling (Jacob Miller, CTO, Zephyr Innovations, Inc., Somerville, MA)
  • TAC Jacket Cooling Solutions (Nanohmics, Inc., Austin, TX)
  • Fuel-Flexible Ultra-Efficient Air Conditioning System for Improved Resilience (Micro Nano Technologies, Gainesville, FL)
  • Wearable Air Conditioner Providing a Heat Solution for Today and Tomorrow (MiClimate, Phoenix, AZ)
  • Ultra-White Radiative Cooling Paints for Mitigating Extreme Heat for Households (Xiulin Ruan, West Lafayette, IN)


Extreme heat is a silent killer, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation’s leading cause of weather-related deaths. During and after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, power outages resulting in a loss of air-conditioning can have serious consequences for those at risk of heat-related illness and vulnerable populations.

To that end, DHS sought solutions to help cool a first responder, a household or family, someone who is displaced because of power outage, or yourself! This is the first in a series of prize competitions focused on strengthening the nation’s resilience to climate change. The Cooling Solutions Challenge is part of DHS’s effort to implement a proactive approach to climate change resilience. The Challenge is in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

​​Full details on the challenge, including rules, terms, and conditions, can be found on the Challenge.gov website (which is the official website where the Federal Government announces all prize Challenges).

Key Dates and Prizes

With a total prize pool of $195,000 the Challenge takes part in two stages. In Stage 1, Finalists will receive $5,000 each and automatically advance to the next round of judging with a chance of winning additional money. In Stage 2, the grand prize winner will receive $50,000 and the runner-up prize is $20,000. We plan to announce the Finalists on April 22, 2022 -  Earth Day! - and the Prize Winners in June 2022 (dates are subject to change).

Prize Winners:

  • One Grand Prize Winner: $50,000
  • One Runner-up Winner: $20,000
  • Up to Four “Use Case” Winners: $10,000
  • Up to Two Honorable Mentions: $5,000

Prizes awarded under this Challenge will be paid by DHS and cash prizes must be received via electronic funds transfer. All federal, state, and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the Finalists and Prize Winners. DHS will comply with the Internal Revenue Service withholding and reporting requirements, where applicable.

We also may consider winning submissions for future opportunities such as:

  • Assistance and connections to mentors to refine or advanced proposed solutions.
  • Connections to technology accelerators or other innovation development programs
  • Connections to existing developers and/or manufacturers
  • Opportunities to speak at conferences with broader security audiences

For details on past prizes visit the Past Prize Challenges page!

Visit Challenge.gov to learn more about all open challenges across the Federal Government.

For questions on the Department of Homeland Security’s Prize Competitions, contact the team at PrizeAuthority@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 05/16/2022
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