Judging Criteria

The goal of the competition is to motivate the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs and innovators to create new ventures that will have a dramatic impact moving clean energy technologies from the discovery phase to the marketplace.

These ventures should support of the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) mission “to develop and deliver market-driven solutions for energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturing; sustainable transportation; and renewable electricity generation.”[1]

Judges at each stage of the competition will apply the following criteria to all submissions. Judges will score each team on a 1 (low) – 5 (high) scale for each of the six broad criteria. The maximum score is therefore 30. The questions below each criterion provide guidance as to how that criteria should be judged.


  • What is the market problem being addressed?
  • How large is the addressable market?
  • Does the target market strategy support the company’s ability to scale?
  • Is the addressable market size sufficient to attract investment?
  • Has the market need been substantiated by discussions with potential customers?
  • Who is the customer?
  • Who are the competitors?

Product/Technology Innovation and Validation

  • How unique is solution?
  • What are the competitive advantages?
  • What is the value proposition?
  • Has the technology and the product been validated?
  • What are the risks?

Business Model and Financial Plans

  • What is the revenue model?
  • Are the financial projections realistic?
  • What is the go to market strategy?
  • What are the barriers to entry (e.g. IP)?
  • Does the team know how much money they will need and how to raise it?
  • How credible are the revenue and cost projections?
  • Is there a plausible exit strategy that would be attractive to investors?


  • Is the team balanced with relevant skills to execute the business plan?
  • Are the team skill gaps recognized and is there a credible plan to fill the gaps
  • in order to reach critical milestones? (e.g. Board of Advisors)
  • Does the team show passion and enthusiasm?

Presentation and “WOW” factor

  • Does the team demonstrate confident, effective storytelling?
  • Is the team responsive to questioning?
  • Does the team effectively demonstrate and communicate all evaluation criteria?
  • Does the innovation support the EERE mission?
  • Does the product have a quality or feature that is extremely impressive? (a “WOW” factor)

Policy Opportunities and Barrier Strategy (Nonmarket Analysis of 4I’s and Strategy[2])

  • Does the team convey an understanding of the policy-related issues (e.g., current or potential regulations, economic incentives, product approval requirements) that might influence product’s potential or timing?
  • Does the team identify the institutions (e.g., government agencies) with authority relevant to the issue?
  • Does the team identify organizations or individuals with an economic or other interest or stake in the issue?
  • Is the team able to provide information on the interests’ capabilities and knowledge relative to issue?
  • Is the team able to articulate a nonmarket strategy to address the policy opportunities and barriers?

EERE Offices: Building Technologies, Advanced Manufacturing, Vehicle Technologies, Federal Energy Management Program, Weatherization and Intergovernmental, Biomass Program, Geothermal Technologies, Fuel Cell Technologies, Solar Energy Technologies, Wind and Hydropower Technologies

[2] See Baron, D.P., “ The Nonmarket Strategy System,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 1995 at http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-nonmarket-strategy-system/.