Developing Scalable Solutions to Energy Poverty Competition

Organisation:  Empower A Billion Lives

Apply By:  31 Aug . 2018

Developing Scalable Solutions to Energy Poverty Competition

Applications are open for IEEE Empower a Billion Lives which is expected to be a biennial global competition, that challenges teams from around the world to develop innovative solutions that can bring cost-effective energy, and its life transforming impact, to billions of unserved and underserved people.

The competition is organized by IEEE, an all-volunteer organization whose goal is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.

The IEEE Empower a Billion Lives competition is agnostic to energy sources, technologies, and business models. Solutions will be evaluated on both their technical innovation and business viability to rapidly and sustainably scale to one billion customers.

Competition Rounds

  • Online Round: Teams will submit proposals online. Teams meeting the requirements as noted by judges will be able to compete in one of five Regional Rounds.
  • Regional Round: Each Regional Round will have winners in each track. There will be additional special prizes, including prizes for student teams. Winning teams will have to participate in a field evaluation to be eligible to participate in the Global Final.
  • Global Final: All succeeding teams will compete in the Global Final. The total anticipated prize purse is $1 Million.


The overall competition categories are:

Track 1: Decentralized Model (Tr1)

Commercially available solution (Tr1A)

Emerging solution (Tr1B)

Track 2: Centralized Utility Model (Tr2)

Commercially available solution (Tr2A)

Emerging solution (Tr2B)


Learning opportunity: Learn about one of the most pressing issues facing humanity from experts in the field

Huge untapped market potential: A market of 1.1 billion unserved people is one of the largest market opportunities today

Exposure: Winners of the regional rounds and the global round will be featured on press releases, social media, and various media outlets

Networking: Participate in banquets and other social events with participants active in the sector

Sponsored field pilot: Winners of the regional round will be provided enough funding to complete a 2-month long field pilot

Significant Prize Monies: Amongst the regional rounds and global final winners a maximum $1 Million dollar prize purse will be distributed


The impact of affordable energy access on families and communities can be profound, providing positive outcomes in areas of health, food security, education, increased productivity, digital and financial inclusion, and livelihood and lifestyle changes.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The competition is completely open to all, including student groups, small- and medium-sized companies, research labs, international corporations, and non-profit organizations.
  • Contest is open to residents of the United States of America and other countries, where permitted by local law, who are the age of eighteen (18) and older.
  • Employees of Sponsor, its agents, affiliates and their immediate families are not eligible to enter Contest.
  • Teams may be subject to rules imposed by their institution or employer relative to their participation in contests and should check with their institution or employer for any relevant policies.
  • Void where prohibited by law.

Competition Schedule

  • The inaugural Empower a Billion Lives Competition (EBL 1) will consist of three competition rounds in four stages – Online Round, Regional Rounds, Field Evaluation, and a Global Final Round.
  • Field performance will be evaluated between the regional and final competition. The EBL final round for EBL 1 will be held in Baltimore in 2019.
  • The EBL competition will operate on a two-year cycle, with online rounds and regional rounds in the first year, followed by field tests and a global final in the second year.

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