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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.

Announcing the Cooling Solutions Winners!

The Cooling Solution Winners Announced!

The winners of the Cooling Solutions Challenge have been selected! The Challenge, co-sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and S&T, sought solutions that countered extreme heat conditions and is part of DHS’s climate resilience strategy.

Cooling Solutions Winners

Grand Prize Winner: $50,000 goes to Zephyr Innovations, Inc. (Jacob Miller, CTO) Somerville, MA, for the Ultra-Efficient Air Conditioning via Liquid Desiccant Dehumidification and Evaporative Cooling solution.

Zephyr Innovations’ entry is a cooling system that uses a compressor-free/refrigerant-free technology to significantly reduce energy consumption and the associated carbon emissions. The cooling solution scored the highest in all judging criteria.

Runner-Up and now renamed to the “Most Innovative Solution”:  $25,000 goes to Small World Sciences LLC (Don Chernoff), Morrisville, NC, for its Improved Cooling Textiles for Clothing, Solar Shades and Temporary Structures.

This unique concept will develop fibers with heat reflective and emissive properties based on biomimicry of animals that have evolved to survive in extreme desert conditions, for use in clothing and building materials to reduce heat stress and save energy. Essentially, the concept takes a page out of nature and is based on how ants cool themselves. The judges were incredibly impressed with the innovative solution and decided to change the category and add another $5,000 to the $20,000 Runner-up category.

Four “Use Case” Category Winners ($10,000 each):

  1. First Responder Assistance: Nanohmics, Inc., Austin, TX, for its TAC Jacket Cooling Solution  
  2. Personal Use: Team of Young Ko, Evelyn N. Wang and Jeffrey C. Grossman, Cambridge, MA, for their Hybrid Cooling Wrap
  3. Household, Group Quarter or Multi-Use Person: Micro Nano Technologies, Gainesville, FL, for its Fuel-Flexible Ultra-Efficient Air Conditioning System for Improved Resilience that can be used as an alternative to conventional air conditioning or built-in cooling solutions
  4. Indoor/Outdoor Venues Accessible to Homeless or Displaced Populations in Public Settings: Better Stuff LLC (Hal Greenberger), Natick, MA, for its Radiative Cooling of Structures solution

Honorable Mention ($5,000): The judges also chose CalidGear (Tayyaba Ali) as an honorable mention for its Wearable Thermoregulatory Device. The judges liked the entry’s creativity.

Prize awards were in addition to the $5,000 finalists received in April 2022. Now, S&T, along with FEMA and its government partners, plans to continue working with the providers of the most promising challenge solutions and provide mentoring and other follow-on opportunities.

DHS uses prize competitions to crowdsource innovation and harness the creativity of the American public to solve critical homeland security challenges. Stay tuned for more prize competitions on climate change. We will announce them on this website, Challenge.gov and DHS S&T social media: LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Full details on the challenge, including rules, terms, and conditions, can be found in the archives on the Challenge.gov website (which is the official website where the Federal Government announces all prize Challenges), and in the past challenges section of this webpage.

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!


In celebration of Earth Day 2022, we’ve announced the 13 finalists in the Cooling Solutions Challenge. Each finalist received $5,000, and advanced to winning round for further consideration by the judges. The finalists were:

  • 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)

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: 01/12/2023
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