The American-Made program is your fast track to the clean energy revolution. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, it incentivizes innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring, connecting the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators to America’s national labs and the private sector. The prize, now in its 6th round, recently awarded the 5th round of innovators with millions of dollars to help bring their startup ideas to the world.

James Nagel and David Penalva, Co-Founders of HelioVolta were two of the American-Made Solar Prize winners. They joined Nico Johnson and Sarah Gomach on the PowerUp Media Zone stage at RE+ in Anaheim, CA on September 21st. The founders discussed the purpose of HelioVolta and how they plan to use the cash award (and non-cash prizes) to continue building their company. SolarGrade, developed by HelioVolta, is a field work management software that helps decrease downtime and increase uptime. They plan to grow the team and continue to implement their technology in the field.

Two hardware teams, Origami Solar, represented by Eric Hafter and TECSI Solar represented by Samuel Truthseeker joined the stage as well to talk about their technologies and growing companies. Origami Solar intends to reverse the solar industry’s reliance on aluminum, unlocking dramatic cost savings and reducing environmental impact (GHG) with an innovative and patent pending design for steel module frames. TECSI Solar was established with the single purpose of advancing the engineering capabilities of companies in the solar space, with competency in all aspects of product development.

Sierra Fan, founder of illu and another prize winner, joins Nico and Sarah as well. illu is software for field teams deploying, operating, and maintaining distributed power assets. She discusses how to increase quality during the install process.