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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

U.S. Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge

Help the USCG find and rescue people in the water!

Department of Homeland Security - Science and Technology

Type of Challenge: Software and apps
Submission Start: 09/05/2018 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 10/15/2018 04:59 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


The United States Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center (USCG RDC) in conjunction with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is seeking new concepts for a solution that helps make people lost in the water easier to find and rescue. The best concepts will be effective, affordable, and hold the potential for wide adoption by recreational mariners and boaters. Submitted concepts may be for a new or updated lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD), an attachment to a lifejacket/PFD, or something recreational mariners and boaters use in addition to wearing their lifejacket/PFD.

As the nation’s maritime first responder, the USCG is devoted to helping mariners and boaters in distress. Within this mission, one critical challenge is finding people who are lost in the water.

When a person falls off of a recreational watercraft (boat, kayak, Jet Ski, paddle craft, etc.), they can be left isolated in open waters. A life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) is a must for survival, keeping a person afloat while they wait for rescue. But a person lost in the water is a small, moving target and it can sometimes take hours before rescue teams are able to locate them.

New recreational mariner safety solutions have the potential to greatly improve the chances of a successful rescue. Current technologies such as dyes, personal locators, and reflective materials in lifejackets/PFDs can help the U.S. Coast Guard better find people, and are shown to improve rescue rates. However, adoption of these technologies remains low, due to factors like cost, comfort, style, and awareness.

With the U.S. Coast Guard Ready For Rescue Challenge, the USCG and DHS S&T calls upon innovators from a wide variety of fields— from Public Safety, Maritime Safety, Recreational Sports, Consumer Goods and Materials, Wearables, Textiles, Smart Technologies, and the Internet of Things— to develop concepts for a new or updated lifejacket/PFD, attachment to a lifejacket/PFD or something recreational mariners and boaters use in addition to wearing their lifejacket/PFD that will enable search and rescue personnel to more readily find and rescue a person in the water. The USCG and DHS S&T intends for this work to be the first step in the design of new, improved or adapted technologies that can be leveraged by current USCG Search and Rescue assets to locate and rescue a person in the water faster.

This is a multi-phase competition:

Phase I (Ideation/Concept): September 5, 2018-October 15, 2018

Phase II (Prototype Development): By invitation only. Phase I winners and honorable mentions participate in a “piranha pool”. Date(s) to be announced within 30 days of completion of Phase I.

Phase III (Prototype Assessment in an Operational Scenario): By invitation only. DHS S&T and the USCG will announce an open submission period for additional Phase III participants in the Spring of 2019. Phase III participants include Phase II participants and invited open submission period applicants.

Phase 1

Phase I of the Challenge seeks concepts for novel and scalable solutions that help make people lost in the water easier to find and rescue. Solutions should help to improve the success of the search and rescue mission and may be a new or updated lifejacket/PFD, an attachment to a lifejacket/PFD, or something recreational mariners and boaters use in addition to wearing their lifejacket/PFD. Proposed solutions must work with at least one existing USCG asset, including the human eye, personal locators, audio, homing beacons, wave infrared, GPS, X Band Radar, near infrared, and other sensor mechanisms. A full list of USCG assets and additional reading and resources can be found at Solutions should not discourage recreational mariners and boaters from purchasing or wearing a lifejacket/PFD or give the impression that it is a substitute for wearing a lifejacket/PFD. Note that solutions cannot include a signal flare or pyrotechnic device.

At the conclusion of Phase I, up to five (5) monetary award prize winners will each receive $5,000 of the associated total cash prize purse of $25,000. Phase I monetary awards are anticipated to be distributed based on the review of the Phase I submissions by the judges. In addition to the monetary prize awards, up to five (5) honorable mention award winners will be selected by the judges and invited to participate in Phase II of the Challenge. Phase I monetary prize winners will be required to participate in Phase II to be eligible for the Phase I monetary award. Honorable mention non-monetary award winners will be invited, but not be required, to participate in Phase II. All Phase II participants are eligible to receive a monetary and/or non-monetary prize based on their participation and the judging criteria defined below.

Phase I monetary award winners are required to travel to the USCG Research and Development Center (RDC) in New London, CT to participate in a “Piranha Pool” pitch. (See Phase II information below). The DHS S&T Directorate will provide invitational travel for Phase I monetary award winners to travel from their home of record (within the Continental U.S. Alaska, and Hawaii) to New London, CT and return. In the case of a team entry, the Team Lead will receive invitational travel to the “Piranha Pool” pitch.

If a potential monetary or non-monetary prize winner is found to be ineligible, has not complied with these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions, or declines the monetary prize for any reason prior to award, (an) alternate winner(s) may be selected.

Monetary prizes awarded under Phase I will be paid to the individual or Team Lead directly by Luminary Labs through electronic funds transfer. Phase II and III monetary awards will be paid to the individual or Team Lead directly by the USCG. Monetary award prize winners are responsible for any applicable local, state, and federal taxes and reporting that may be required under applicable tax laws.

Phase II

Phase I monetary prize winners and invited non-monetary honorable mentions (optional) will participate in a “Piranha Pool” to pitch their concept, prototype build and evaluation plan before a panel of judges comprised of the public and private maritime community. Participants will compete for a cash prize purse of up to $120,000 to assist in the development of their concept into a working prototype for evaluation, testing alongside USCG assets, and judging in Phase III.  Additionally, all Phase II monetary award and non-monetary award winners may be offered access to additional non-monetary awards consisting of USCG resources, data and mentorship. Based on a winner’s acceptance of Phase II non-monetary support, a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement and/or background check may be required to access certain USCG resources. Phase II monetary awards and offers of non-monetary awards to assist in the development of a working prototype will be distributed by the judges based upon the “Piranha Pool” presentation, posed questions and answers.

Phase III will be conducted between 1 August 2019 and 31 December 2019. Phase III will consist of limited field testing of prototypes alongside standard USCG approved safety equipment. The test location will be in the Northeast U.S. in August 2019 (test dates to be announced). Prior to the beginning of Phase III, the USCG and DHS S&T will open Phase III to a limited number of additional contestants that did not participate in Phase I or II. New entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on their uniqueness, potential effectiveness and feasibility based on the criteria described in Phase I of this challenge. At the sole discretion of the judges, a limited number of new contestants with a working prototype may be invited to participate in Phase III.  All Phase III contestants will be eligible to share in the Phase III prize purse of up to $110,000.

At the conclusion of the Phase III limited field testing, the judging panel may award up to $110,000 in monetary prizes to the top 5 winners. Winners that accept a monetary prize must agree to continue to work with the USCG RDC to improve their prototype, obtain feedback, prepare their prototype for commercialization, and provide requested information in the preparation of the final USCG report.

Additional monetary investment by the government in the further development and commercialization of participant prototypes after the conclusion of the challenge is not anticipated. Non-monetary assistance may be offered and provided by DHS S&T to aid contestants in commercializing their prototypes.


Phase 1
Cash Prize Amount: $$25,000

Phase I: Up to 5 Phase I winners will receive $5000 each. DHS S&T will provide invitational travel orders to monetary award winners located within the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii to participate in the Phase II "Piranha Pool"

Phase 2
Cash Prize Amount: $$120,000

Participants will compete for a cash prize purse of up to $120,000 to assist in the development of their concept into a working prototype for evaluation, testing alongside USCG assets, and judging in Phase III. Additionally, all Phase II monetary award and non-monetary award winners may be offered access to additional non-monetary awards consisting of USCG resources, data and mentorship.

Phase 3
Cash Prize Amount: $$110,000

1st Place: $50,000; 2nd Place: $30,000; 3rd Place: $20,000; 4th-5th Place: $5,000 each



To be eligible to win a cash prize under this Competition, an individual or entity: 1.) Shall have registered to participate in the Competition under the rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, the United States Coast Guard (Competition Sponsors) and Luminary Labs in accordance with the description provided on the Competition Website. 2.) The Challenge is open to all individuals (non-felons) over the age of 18, United States Citizens or legal permanent residents at the time of entry and to all validly formed legal U.S. entities whose primary place of business is in the U.S. that have not declared or been declared in bankruptcy. Eligibility is subject to verification by the DHS and USCG before monetary prizes are awarded. 3.) Officers, directors, advisory board members, employees, and support contractors of DHS S&T Borders and Maritime Division, USCG RDC, USCG Challenge advisors/mentors, Luminary Labs and its contractors (with the express exception of Luminary Labs’ authorized solver community), and judges are ineligible to compete in this Challenge. Likewise, members of their immediate family (spouses, children, step-children, siblings, step-siblings, parents, step-parents), and persons living in the same household, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in any portion of this Competition. Note: The members of an individual’s household include any other person who shares the same residence as such individual for at least three months out of the year. See the ( public notice for full set of exclusions and eligibility requirements. 4.) You are not eligible to receive a monetary or non-monetary prize in the Challenge if you are a resident or entity designated by the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (see center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx for additional information). 5.) Shall have complied with all of the requirements on the official Competition Website. 6.) Individuals and entities, otherwise eligible to win a monetary or non-monetary prize, may form and submit a team entry; however, each eligible individual or entity must first register as an individual or entity participant for the contest before they form a team. Failure to follow this procedure as outlined on the contest website will disqualify the contest submission. Team winnings, as determined by the Contest Sponsor, will be distributed to the designated team leader for further distribution to team members. 7.) Contestants to this Prize Competition must: agree to be bound by the rules of the Prize Competition, agree that the decision of the judges for this Prize Competition are final and binding, and acknowledge that their submission may be the subject of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and that they are responsible for identifying and marking all business confidential and proprietary information in their submission. 8.) Individuals and Individual Team Leaders selected as a Prize Competition Monetary Prize Winner must submit all required taxpayer identification and bank account information required to complete an electronic payment of the cash prize. Failure to provide Luminary Labs or the government required documents for electronic payment within 30 days of notification by Luminary Labs, Inc. or the government will result in a disqualification of the winning entry. 9.) Participants in this Prize Competition agree, as a condition for winning a monetary or non-monetary prize, to complete and submit all required winner verification documents to Luminary Labs, Inc. or DHS within 30 days of notification. Failure to return all required verification documents by the date specified in the notification may be a basis for disqualification of the winning entry. 10.) Contestants to this Prize Competition must agree and consent, as a condition for receiving a monetary or non-monetary prize, to the use of their name, entity, city and state, likeness or image, comments, and a short synopsis of their winning solution as a part of the Department of Homeland Security’s promotion of this Prize Competition. 11.) Entrants will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless DHS, USCG, and Luminary Labs from and against all third-party claims, actions, or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses relating to, or arising from, the entrant’s submission or any breach or alleged breach of any of the representations, warranties, and covenants of the entrant hereunder. 12.) Contestants must own or have access at their own expense to a computer, an Internet connection, and any other electronic devices, documentation, software, or other items that contestants may deem necessary to create and enter a submission 13.) The following Participants (including any individuals participating as part of a team or entity) are not eligible to win a monetary or non-monetary prize regardless of whether they meet the criteria set forth above: Any Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of his or her employment or otherwise be prohibited by Federal law (employees should consult their agency ethics officials). Scope of Employment Definition: Activities of an employee that are in furtherance of duties that are owed to an employer and where the employer is, or could be, exercising some control, directly or indirectly, over the activities of the employee. Note: Federal ethical conduct rules may restrict or prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain outside activities; any federal employee not excluded under the prior paragraph seeking to participate in this Competition outside the scope of employment should consult his/her agency’s ethics official prior to developing a submission; Any individual or entity that used DHS or USCG Federal facilities or relied upon significant consultation with DHS Federal employees to develop a submission, unless the facilities and employees were made available to all Participants in this Competition on an equal basis; and Any individual or entity that used Federal funds to develop a submission, unless such use is consistent with the grant award, or other applicable Federal funds awarding document. If a grantee using Federal funds enters and wins this Prize Competition, the prize monies must be treated as program income for purposes of the original grant in accordance with applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop a submission for this Competition Per 15 U.S.C. 3719(h), an individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible under these eligibility rules because the individual or entity used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the Competition on an equitable basis. 14.) Use of Marks: Except as expressly set forth in the Participant Agreement or the Competition rules, participants shall not use the names, trademarks, service marks, logos, insignias, trade dress, or any other designation of source or origin subject to legal protection, copyrighted material or similar intellectual property (“Marks”) of the organizers or other Prize Competition partners, sponsors, or collaborators in any way without such party’s prior written permission in each instance, which such party may grant or withhold at its sole and absolute discretion. If the submission includes the work of any third party (such as third-party content or open source code), the entrant must be able to provide, upon the request of DHS and/or Luminary Labs, documentation of all appropriate licenses and releases for such third-party works. If the entrant cannot provide documentation of all required licenses and releases, DHS reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify the applicable submission, or direct the entrant to secure the licenses and releases for DHS’s benefit within three (3) days of notification of the missing documentation and allow the applicable submission to remain in the Challenge. In addition, DHS reserves all rights to pursue an entrant for claims based on damages incurred by the entrant’s failure to obtain such licenses and releases. 15.) By participating in the Challenge, each entrant represents, warrants, and covenants as follows: The entrants are the sole authors, creators, and owners of the submission; The entrant’s submission: Is not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation claim; Does not, and will not, violate or infringe upon the intellectual property rights, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other legal rights of any third party; Does not, and will not, contain any harmful computer code (sometimes referred to as “malware,” “viruses,” or “worms”); and the submission and entrant’s use of the submission does not, and will not, violate any applicable laws or regulations of the United States. 16.) An individual or entity that is determined to be on the GSA Excluded Parties List ( is ineligible to receive a monetary or non-monetary prize award and will not be selected as a Prize Competition winner. All entry information submitted on the Challenge website and all materials, including any copy of the submission, becomes property of DHS and the USCG and will not be acknowledged or returned by Luminary Labs, DHS or the USCG. 17.) Each contestant retains title to, and full ownership of, its submission. The contestant expressly reserves all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under this agreement. By participating in the Challenge, each contestant hereby irrevocably grants a license to DHS, USCG, and Luminary Labs to store, access and modify submissions in perpetuity that may be reproduced or distributed in the future. 18.) DHS reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entrant who is found to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Challenge, Challenge website, or other Challenge-related websites; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions; or to be acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with the intent to disrupt or undermine the legitimate operation of the Challenge; or to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any other person; and DHS reserves the right to seek damages and other remedies from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. DHS reserves the right to disqualify any submission that DHS, in its discretion, deems to violate these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions. Participants in Phase II and III of this Prize Competition agree to complete a background check and sign a non-disclosure agreement for access to government buildings, non-public information and other resources provided during Phase II and III.