Courtesy of US Government

Why compete?

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


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


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

Target customer community

Solutions are expected to serve customers with the following characteristics and needs.

Primarily off-grid

Tier 0-1 energy access

Purchasing power below $1.90 per day

Living in rural areas

Limited access to banking

<50% have bank accounts

Using feature phones

<40% have smartphones

Energy needs

Solutions must provide Tier 2 energy access (200+ watt hours per day), which includes:

Household uses

Household uses include: single house lighting, phone charging, telecommunication, entertainment, air circulation, refrigeration, water pumping, home cooling, smart cooking, electric two- and three-wheeler charging, etc.

Community uses

Community uses include: multiple home solutions for public lighting, water pumping & purification, education and health facilities, etc.

Productive uses

Productive uses include: agriculture processing, light manufacturing (sewing, pottery, weaving, carpentry), construction, food processing, commerce, new incoming opportunities, etc.

Competition tracks

The competition has four tracks, arranged by type of model and type of solution. For more details, refer to the competition guide.

Commercially available solutions Emerging solutions
Track 1
Decentralized models

Track 1A

Example solutions could include: solar home systems, pay-go systems

Track 1B

Example solutions could include: new household-level ideas that may interconnect

Track 2
Centralized utility models

Track 2A

Example solutions could include: mini- and micro-grids

Track 2B

Example solutions could include: Top-down solutions with a system operator


Competition guide

Detailed description and judging rubrics for the competition.


Competition rules

Official rules of the competition.


Tech Design Library

Designing a electricity solutions to such difficult markets is a high challenge. To this end, EBL competitors are provided with a library of Design Resources that lists some of the leading manufacturers and service providers in the space. Competitors will be evaluated on novelty of their solutions, but are not expected to "reinvent the wheel" and encouraged to use existing solutions, where suitable.

Listing in this library does not constitute as endorsement by IEEE Empower a Billion Lives. If you would like your company to be featured among our design resources, contact us at ​​.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are looking for holistic solutions that provide tier 2 energy access to the end customers. The solution should address the entire power generation, delivery, and management system including the business and social aspects. We are actively looking for the “WOW factor”, disruptive ideas that change the paradigm.

Absolutely yes, but you should consider inviting business students and/or professionals who may help you build a business plan. We also have a special prize category specifically for student teams.

The targeted prize purse is $1 million that will be distributed among the regional rounds and the global round that have qualifying winners. The winners of the regional rounds will be provided with enough funding to perform a 2 month field test and cover their travel expenses.

By all means you can compete. A valid entry does not have to include technical innovation, using an off-the-shelf product fits the competition requirements perfectly. We created a collection of design resources to aid your search for off-the-shelf products and services that can help you in creating your solution.

Unfortunately there is no funding available to teams at this time until the regional rounds when winning teams will receive funding to perform a 2 month field test and cover their travel expenses. The organizers highly encourage teams to pursue securing their own source of funding for the competition.

Unfortunately the organizers cannot disclose the list of registered teams, but we would like to encourage you to join our LinkedIn group to mash-up with other participants.

IEEE has a long history of facilitating transparent review and judging processes adhering to the IEEE Code of Ethics that is standard practice on IEEE conferences worldwide. Reviewers and judges will be assigned proposals that they have no financial or academic interest in.

No, the sponsors or judges claim no IP rights. You should use IP that you have a legal right to use. The competition will occasionally display your entry for purposes of advertising, evaluating, or promoting the competition. For details please see the official competition rules.

Unfortunately that is not possible due to the organizational difficulties it would pose. The judges will do their best to ensure confidentiality, but the organizers reserve the right to make public any technical document submitted. You are encouraged to file a provisional patent before submission. For details please see the official competition rules.

Absolutely! We are always happy to see committed volunteers working on the regional or on the global level. Please contact us at and let us know of your background, and interests.

The last day to register your team is August 31st. Changing team members is still possible after the deadline.

No, student teams must be consisted of exclusively students who are actively enrolled in a higher education institution. Faculty can be involved in an advisory role, but may not hold IP in the solution. Team with active faculty participants will be treated as normal teams.

Make sure to register your team or sign up to our newsletter to hear about the latest updates regarding the competition.

August 31st midnight Pacific time.

Yes, you can submit it several times, the judges will review and provide you with feedback within 15-30 days. You cannot submit a new proposal while one is under review.

The organizers highly recommend creating a short (less than 3 min) pitch video to briefly explain your idea to the judges. This helps the judges to get a clear high level understanding of your proposal that will guide them in the reading the rest of your proposal. This video is not required to be a professional video, or animation, a simple recording using a smart phone works well for the online round.

Proposals shorter than 6 pages are acceptable but must fulfill all the formatting requirements laid out in the Appendix I of the competition guide.

No, all proposals must be submitted on an A4 or 8.5”x11” page with a font size of minimum 11. For details please see the Appendix I of the competition guide.

Yes, as long as the proposals are different. The same proposal cannot be submitted in different tracks.

Yes, as long as the team leader is different.

No, unfortunately teams must sponsor their own travel to the regional rounds.

No, this is normal. We are currently transferring the proposal submission system to a third party competition management platform which will be able to send you a confirmation email. We appreciate your patience until then.

No, every team can attend only one regional round.

Yes, you can select your preferred region. In some special circumstances the organizers may need to assign you to a different region.

Help! I have a question that is not listed here! – Not a problem, contact us at!

Join the competition

Register your teamSubmit your proposal