US Department of Energy Selects the University of Arizona Center for Innovation as Super Connector for the American-Made Solar Prize


TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to collaborate in the American-Made Solar Prize as a Super Connector to support its goal to boost US solar manufacturing through innovation. UACI is the University of Arizona incubator network and is a part of Tech Parks Arizona.

The American-Made Solar Prize is a $3 million prize competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing through a series of contests and the development of a diverse and powerful support network that leverages national laboratories, energy incubators and other resources across the country.

The UACI has been part of the American-Made Network as a connector since the beginning of the program three years ago. This is a diverse and powerful network consisting of national laboratories, universities, energy incubators, facilities, industry partners and other organizations essential to the success of new innovations that will be inspired by the Solar Prize competition. This recent announcement has elevated the official role of UACI as a Power Connector for the program.

UACI will serve as the nation’s hub for the Southwest region, which include the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. As a Power Connector, UACI will attract, engage and support new talent thus developing high quality competitors for the American-Made Challenge (AMC) Solar Prize. The service of the Power Connectors is vital to enhancing the engagement and effectiveness of the AMC Network by mentoring and supporting the 2020 competition teams with guidance and resources. UACI will also facilitate the collaboration between the connectors, participants, competitors and resources within the region as well as organize and host the American-Made Solar Prize Round 3 Set! Demo Day competition. Additionally, the sun shines at ‘optimal radiance’ approximately 85% of the year in Tucson allowing solar technologies to be tested effectively and thoroughly year-round.

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation provides the ideal combination of facilities and programming to support innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs and resources allowing the program participants to build, modify and improve their concepts, ideas and prototypes to provide American-made solar power. This collaboration combines UACI’s unparalleled entrepreneurial support system with the American-Made Network’s highly revered national laboratory research base. Together, they support competitors in the Solar Prize to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations primed for additional investment and commercial scale up.

“We look forward to playing a critical role in supporting and accelerating technology in the Southwest region by working alongside entrepreneurs to develop prototypes, demonstrate technology and evaluate efficiency.  The Solar Prize program fans the spark of innovation and has the potential to motivate multitudes of entrepreneurs to solve the goal of sustainable and affordable American-made solar energy,” explained UACI executive director Eric Smith.

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