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Competition Details


Why 76West

An unparalleled competition with prize money and business development support such as training and mentoring, as well as available tax incentives. And connect and collaborate with innovators from all walks of life—from Fortune 500 and industry thought-leaders and innovators, to leading researchers and investors.

View details on how applications will be judged.

Annual Awards Breakdown

Each year, 76West will award $2.5 million in prize money to four winners as follows: one grand prize of $1 million, and three $500,000 awards, all payable in increments based on specific milestone accomplishments.

Program Support

Along with a cash prize, competition organizers will also seek to provide additional specialized support based on the winners’ business goals.

Competition Timeline

Each year the 76West competition cycle consists of an application, an online semifinalist selection, and a live pitch. Business support and development work in the Southern Tier is included for all semifinalists. Business support will continue to run after the competition for as long as companies have an obligation to maintain a presence in the Southern Tier.

Date Event
December 2019 Launch of the Competition and Application
March  2020 Close of Application
March 2020

First Round of Judging

  • A group of expert judges reviews and scores applications
July 2020 Semifinalists notified
July – August, 2020

Semifinalist Mentoring and Business Development

  •  Semifinalists work with their mentor to plan and refine their pitch
August 2020

Pitch Competition

  • Semifinalists deliver their pitches to the 76West judging panel
October 2020

Award Announcement

  • Prize winners announced at Award Ceremony


The Competition is open to applicants that are operating companies with a product or service that fits the 76West Clean Energy definition.

Defining Clean Energy

For the 76West Competition, clean energy products or services are defined as:

Hardware technologies, software technologies, services, or processes that broadly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and/or enable the transition to a sustainable and clean energy economy by increasing the supply of renewable energy and distributed energy resources, improving the efficiency of energy utilization at the consumer and industrial scale, improving the processes and systems that use energy, or more effectively enable energy solutions to permeate the marketplace.

To be eligible, an applicant must be an established business entity that meets two or more of the following criteria:

  • Less than seven years from date of formal organization
  • Has its first product or service in testing or pilot production
  • Pre-revenue or early revenue
  • Has a leadership team and investors working toward commercialization and profitability

If the business is a spin-off from an existing business that does not meet the above criteria, the new entity must be pursuing a substantially new technology or business model.

The following businesses are not eligible for the Competition: investment vehicles that invest in the securities of other entities, residential real property and retail businesses, sports venues, gaming and gambling businesses, places of overnight accommodation, past 76West cash-prize winners, or entertainment-related establishments. For this purpose, “retail business” means a business that is primarily engaged in making retail sales of goods or services to customers who personally visit such facilities to obtain goods or services. In addition, generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters and franchise-based outlets. Also excluded are any businesses that do not fit the definition of “clean energy” above.


Each year, a panel of judges will award $2.5 million in prize money, payable in increments. Judges will base award decisions on the following criteria:

  1. Clean Energy Impact - Furtherance of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, promotion of the use of renewable energy resources, or promotion of energy efficiency
  2. Customer Value - Provision of significant value for customers for which they are willing to pay
  3. Business Model Viability - Generation of revenue and maintenance of a cost structure that allows for a competitive and sustainable business
  4. Technical Viability - Demonstrated readiness of the applicant’s technology or innovation to provide desired energy impacts and customer value in its target markets
  5. Southern Tier Job Creation - Potential for creation of high quality jobs in the Southern Tier, directly or indirectly, with secondary consideration given to New York State jobs
  6. Team - Quality and completeness of the team and their readiness to deliver

Winner Selection

Following the selection of Semifinalists, a Finals Judging Panel will hear presentations, ask questions, and recommend the winners, taking into account input from the previous judging round, and business interactions with the Semifinalists. Final decisions will rest with NYSERDA.

76West Requirements for Award Payments

76West awards will be distributed through a direct contract with NYSERDA. The payments will be based on milestones and will include standard NYSERDA recoupment terms. Awardees will not be asked to give up equity or intellectual property rights. However, in the event of company success, the award amount may be recouped without interest over an extended period of time.

Positive Impact on the Southern Tier Region

Detailed location requirements can be found in the full competition Terms and Conditions [PDF].

As a condition of the award, companies must either move to the Southern Tier or establish a direct connection with the Southern Tier, such as a supply chain relationship or other strategic relationships with Southern Tier entities that create jobs. If the companies are already in the Southern Tier, they must commit to substantially growing their business and employment in the region.

Administered by NYSERDA, the 76West Competition  was launched in 2016 as a $20 million four-year initiative to grow the clean energy ecosystem in the Southern Tier with funds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Clean Energy Fund. Due to its significant positive impact for the region, the competition is being funded this year by Empire State Development through the Southern Tier Soaring Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The Competition supports technological and other innovation initiatives to meet New York State’s climate and decarbonization goals. 


Application Options

The 76West 2020 Competition Application Period closed on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.