American-Made Challenges

CABLE Conductor Manufacturing Prize

Help electrify innovation; join the CABLE Prize challenge today!

As electrification grows worldwide in response to the climate emergency, so too will the demand for conductivity-enhanced materials and applications. There is an urgent need for enhanced conductivity materials that can lower costs and improve grid performance—including resilience against extreme weather events—as well as the performance of everything connected to the grid. We have a once-in-a-generation window of opportunity to upgrade and expand our aging electric and transportation infrastructures with new, high-performance materials.

Conductivity-enhanced materials support transformational technologies ranging from electric cars, trains, and planes to smartphones, heat pumps, and everything else in our daily lives that involves the conduction of electric and thermal energy. For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) launched the Conductivity-enhanced materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric and thermal applications (CABLE) Conductor Manufacturing Prize to help supercharge our U.S. energy and manufacturing industries.

The $4.5-million CABLE Prize encourages researchers and inventors to develop and manufacture breakthrough conductivity-enhanced materials. Competitors must design affordable conductors that demonstrate significant enhancements in conductivity and enable U.S. manufacturers to leapfrog to next-generation materials. Up to four Grand Prize winners will be selected in this three-stage, three-year contest.

The CABLE Prize

Conductive materials are fundamental to nearly all energy use applications. Developing manufacturing processes for conductivity-enhanced materials in motors, generators, and renewable power technologies could lower costs and reduce climate impacts while improving performance.

The competition aims to unite a diverse collection of researchers and inventors to develop transformative, cost-effective approaches and technologies to accelerate American entrepreneurship and pinpoint pathways for further research and development funding and technology transition efforts.

Stage 1 Timeline

Stage 1:

Competitors will submit their breakthrough concepts for development and manufacture of a new, affordable, electrical conductivity-enhanced material. An “electrical-conductivity-enhanced material” is one that exceeds the minimum standard (10 MS/m) and potentially could be enhanced to or above the levels of the aspirational goals. This stage of the prize will inform DOE about the minimum conductivity enhancement and other property benchmarks, as well as the types of support that competitors will likely need from DOE national laboratories or other American-Made Challenges Network providers in the next two stages of the prize. Up to 10 winners will each receive $25,000 in cash awards and a stipend for third-party testing of their material in Stage 2 of the prize. DOE invites all registered prize competitors to the upcoming CABLE Big Idea workshop during Stage 1. Prize competitors are encouraged to connect with the rest of the CABLE Big Idea innovation ecosystem.

Important Dates

  • Contest Begins and Registration Opens: March 17, 2021
  • Contest Webinar: March 30, 2021
  • CABLE Big Idea Workshop: April 7-9, 2021
  • Contest Submission Deadline: August 19, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
  • Winners Expected Announcement: September/October 2021*

* Dates anticipated

Stage 2:

Competitors will provide a sample of their material for electrical conductivity testing according to prize requirements. Competitors will also provide preliminary plans to scale up and manufacture the material. Up to six competitors will each win $200,000 in cash awards and $100,000 in noncash voucher support to work with a DOE national laboratory or other American-Made Challenges Network provider in Stage 3.

Important Dates

  • Contest Begins: November 2021*
  • Contest Submission Deadline: August 2022*
  • Winners Expected Announcement: September 2022*

* Dates anticipated

Stage 3:

Competitors successful in Stage 2 will develop a larger sample of their conductivity-enhanced material. Competitors must also provide substantial background information on how the sample was made and plans to commercialize the material. At least two testing organizations will evaluate each material sample for conductivity and other characteristics. Scores will be based, in part, on the conductivity enhancement (size and extent of breakthrough), other important material characteristics, and leapfrog manufacturability and affordability. Up to four competitors will split a total prize pool of at least $2,000,000.

Important Dates

  • Contest Begins: November 2022*
  • Contest Submission Deadline: September 2023*
  • Winners Expected Announcement: October 2023*

* Dates anticipated

Who Can Participate?

Answer the call; help us enhance electrical and thermal conductivity though innovation. Competitors are entrepreneurial individuals or teams legally residing or based in the United States. Competitors can be individuals of one or multiple organizations, students, university faculty members, small business owners, researchers, or anyone with the desire and drive to transform an idea into an impactful conductor material. Read the CABLE Prize Rules to learn more.

How to Enter

Complete a submission package online at our HeroX challenge page.

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Sign up for updates at

Solutions that help shape the future

Closeup photo of Flatirons Campus substation. Conductive materials are fundamental to nearly all energy use applications, and there is an urgent need for enhanced conductivity materials that can lower costs and improve grid performance. Credit: NREL

Are you a thinker, entrepreneur, or potential partner? Anyone with an innovative idea can participate in the American-Made Challenges.

Ready for the Challenge