The Judging Process

Screening and Judging will take place in three rounds after the close of applications on March 3, 2014. The Regional Judging and Awards Celebration will determine the Regional winners, and be hosted by FLoW in Los Angeles, May 7, 2014.

Round 1: Submissions March 3, 2014

This round will be judged online, using the iStart platform, by experts including angel investors and VCs, technology specialists, university tech transfer personnel, corporate venture experts and utilities specialists, and leaders from the service industry. Each submission will be reviewed by three judges seeking entries demonstrating a defined technology platform and a strong business concept for building a sustainable business. Contestants will be evaluated, scored and ranked according to FLoW judging criteria rubric (based on the DOE National Competition judging rubric).

After the close of submissions, applications will be divided into two judging tracks:

Ready to Commercialize

The first group will be expected to show a solid team with the beginnings of a business where IP has been identified, the strategy identified and process either begun or contemplated; the strategy for incorporation is apparent or has been implemented; and evidence of an understanding of the target market for the potential products. The judges will look for evidence that the team has contacted prospective customers and channel partners, as part of their market investigation.

Judging Criteria [pdf]

Transformational Idea

In the second group which includes advanced research projects, judges will be looking for transformational potential and a major impact on the energy industry and economy. Those in this category that make it through Round 1 will be provided with mentoring and legal advice to help the team identify the commercial potential for their innovation, build the business model and set a strategy for moving forward.

There will be a special Transformational Idea Award and the chance to exhibit at the Regional Awards Final, May 7, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Judging Criteria [pdf]

Round 2: Semi-finals April 4, 2014 (SoCal and NorCal)

Two semi-final rounds will be held at a university in Los Angeles and UC Berkeley respectively where California and out of state teams will compete. Teams can either attend in person or participate through Google Hangout or Skype. Panels of judges comprised of Angel investors, VCs and representatives of utilities and corporate venture funds will assess the business proposition, team quality and ability to "sell" the concept through the presentation. The format includes detailed feedback from the judges and should your team elect to attend in person, there will be opportunities to network with the judges and with other teams.

Round 3: The Regional Finals and Awards, May 7, 2014

Each of the teams will present their business plan in a formal session before Judging Panels consisting of the same profile as Round 2, and tasked with determining the first, second and third place winners. This will be followed by an evening event, including invited members of the business community celebrating all who competed.

Judging Criteria

The Judging Panels will consider the teams and their business plans under these general areas:

The Concept and Product Novelty: how much is the product a game changer — the "wow" factor! Does it solve a real problem for real customers? Can it be scaled from a working prototype to a successful commercial product, and can it be manufactured?

The Market: What is the size of market opportunity and the team's go-to-market strategy?

Financials and Profitability: Is the way your business going to earn money reasonable? Does the business strategy establish a plan to achieve profitability?

The Team: Can they execute against the business plan, and what is the quality of the leadership? What areas will require bringing in management staff, or outsiders (advisors, consultants) with different skills?

Presentation skills: The ability to convey with clarity and passion, the team's business vision.

The Technology: Does it address the cleantech areas outlined by the competition? How revolutionary is the technology and how much better than current product technologies already on the market?

Impact on EERE Mission: to strengthen the United States energy security, environmental quality and economic vitality.