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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

USMC Knee and Elbow Pad Innovation

The Marine Corps is seeking an innovative solution to improve comfort, impact protection, and operator acceptance of knee and elbow pads while maintaining mobility and operators range of motion.

Department of Defense - U.S. Marine Corps

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $5,000
Type of Challenge: Technology demonstration and hardware
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: MilTech (EPIC)
Submission Start: 05/28/2019 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 07/12/2019 11:59 PM ET


U.S. Marine putting on a knee pad

Problem Statement:

The Marine Corps seeks new and innovative ideas and solutions that improve the currently fielded knee and elbow pads’ comfort.  The current knee and elbow pads secure to the leg or arm with elastic bands, negatively affecting comfort, maneuverability, and stability.  Knee and elbow pad ideas and solutions that enhance the Marines’ comfort, maneuverability, and stability, and can either integrate into the trousers and blouse or are stand-alone items are sought.

The desired end-state is to determine a design or concept that provides improved comfort, impact protection and operator acceptance, while maintaining mobility and operator’s range of motion.

If the Marine Corps can identify a new or an innovative knee and elbow pad solution that demonstrates outstanding achievements in basic, advanced, applied research and technology development, the Marine Corps will award a prize as detailed below and will consider procuring the system through a full and open competition resulting in a Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contract.

Operational Environment: 

Marines are expected to effectively operate in both wet and dry climates with a temperature range of extreme heat to extreme cold.  Knee and elbow blunt force, and abrasion protection is especially valuable during military operations on urban terrain or in areas where the ground consists of rocks, rubble, concrete, broken glass, shrapnel or other hard irregular and or protruding surfaces that could present significant risks to a Marine's knees and elbows.

Performance Requirements:

  • The knee and elbow pads should demonstrate new or innovative materials over current systems.
  • The knee and elbow pads should not interfere with the normal operation of the extremities.
  • The knee and elbow pads should conform to the natural shape of the knee and elbow.
  • The protective shell of the knee and elbow pad should prevent damage to the knee and elbow caused by impact with hard surfaces during normal movement.
  • Pads should not cause constriction or chaffing.
  • Candidate's submissions should not damage nor adversely affect the appearance nor the utility of the Marine Corps’ combat uniform.  Integrated solutions/modifications to existing uniforms are permitted provided integrated solutions/modifications do not adversely affect the uniform during wear.
  • The following NSNs are provided and are representative of the knee and elbow pads that have been cataloged, and are currently in use by the Marine Corps:
    • Pad, Knee: 8415-01-515-0364
    • Pad, Elbow: 8415-01-515-0222
  • The following NSNs are provided and are representative of the current Marine Corps combat uniform (MCCU) (size Medium-Regular):
    • Blouse, Woodland, MARPAT, Camouflage: 8415-01-527-1452
    • Trousers, Woodland, MARPAT, Camouflage: 8415-01-527-1848
  • The knee and elbow pads should limit, to the greatest extent possible without impacting form, fit, function, and comfort, any adjustment necessary due to movement.
  • The knee and elbow pads should remain in their intended locations on the knee or elbow while walking, running, using stairs/ladders and/or crawling.
  • Knee and elbow pads should be capable of accommodating users of varying shapes and sizes and shall fit the anthropometric measurements of the 2nd percentile female Marine through the 98th percentile male Marine.
  • Shall be compliant with the Berry Amendment.


Questions about this prize challenge can be submitted here:


Overall Prize shall be awarded to the top system of knee and elbow pads as determined by the panel based on the review of submissions against the Prize Challenge requirements above.

First place (full prize) will receive $4,000.  In order to receive the full prize, a candidate must submit both knee and elbow pads for consideration and both pads must be selected. 

Candidates that submit only one portion of the system, will receive only half of the prize award.  (i.e., candidate “A” submits only knee pads and if chosen as the overall prize winner, candidate “A” will only receive $2,000 vice the full amount of $4,000). 

Candidates who submit both knee and elbow pads and only have one component selected will only receive $2,000.

An Innovation Prize of $1,000 shall be awarded to whichever design is determined to demonstrate the most innovative concept that introduces new or innovative materials over current systems.  Product improvements or engineering change proposals on existing knee and elbow pads will not satisfy the requirements of this Prize Challenge and therefore an innovation prize will not be awarded. 


Submission Requirements:

  • Interested parties shall submit a Solution Paper that demonstrates new or innovative materials and/or designs over current systems.  Knee and elbow pads shall be submitted with a Solution Paper to be eligible for the Overall Prize.
  • Interested parties presenting a Solution Paper without knee and elbow pad samples will only be eligible for the Innovation Prize.
  • Solution papers shall be limited to four pages and should provide the party’s CAGE code (if applicable), pictures/diagrams of system, description of how it achieves the above characteristics, and estimated pricing per unit.
  • If a potential solution uses multiple sizes of knee/elbow pads, only one size representative of the vendor’s capabilities satisfying the requirements of this Prize Challenge shall be included with the Solution Paper.
  • Production models (knee and elbow pad samples) are not required to be considered for the Innovation Prize.
  • Submissions may include proposed solutions to both knee and elbow pads, or each pad individually.
  • Submissions are due by 12 July 2019 and shall be sent to:
524 Garrisonville Rd, #100
Garrisonville, VA 22463-0100

Judging Criteria

Selection Panel

  • A panel consisting of Marines and infantry combat equipment subject matter experts will review submissions to determine a solution that best meets the intent of this Prize Challenge.

How To Enter

Submissions are due by 12 July 2019 and shall be sent to:
524 Garrisonville Rd, #100
Garrisonville, VA 22463-0100


Terms and Conditions:

During the submission period, a review panel will initially screen submissions for eligibility and compliance with the rules of this challenge.  A submission that fails to meet the eligibility and compliance criteria may be disqualified and may be ineligible for prizes if it is determined that the candidate’s submission does not sufficiently address the performance requirements cited above. The following terms and conditions apply:

  • The interested party must be (1) an individual U.S. citizen, team of U.S. citizens, or permanent resident(s) of the United States, or (2) an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States.
  • Only two submissions are allowed per interested party.
  • An interested party is only eligible for either the Overall Prize or the Innovation Prize, not both.
  • Submissions will not be returned to the interested party.
  • Employees of Marine Corps Systems Command, and any other individual or entity associated with the development, evaluation, or administration of the challenge as well as members of such persons’ immediate families (e.g., spouses, children, siblings, parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in the challenge.
  • Interested parties must also agree to indemnify the U.S. Federal Government against third-party claims for damages arising from or related to competition activities.
  • By participating in the challenge, each interested party agrees to comply with and abide by these official rules, terms and conditions and the decisions of the Marine Corps Systems Command, which will be final and binding in all respects.
  • Nothing in this Prize Challenge shall diminish the Government's rights in patents, technical data, technical information, computer software, computer databases, and computer software documentation that the Government had prior to this Prize Challenge, or is entitled to, under any other Government Agreement or contract, or is otherwise entitled to under law.