Please note that the details of this Challenge are no longer open. This challenge is awarded and is no longer accepting new submissions. You can:
Challenge Quantifying Drift Invertebrates in River and Estuary Systems
Quantifying Drift Invertebrates in River and Estuary Systems
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 178
Posted: Oct 07 2015
Challenge ID: 9933647
Team Project Rooms are available on this Challenge. Team Share Challenge Share

Habitat restoration, improvement, and creation in rivers, streams, and estuaries are key elements for the recovery of salmon, trout, and other critical fish species in the United States. Millions of dollars are spent annually on activities such as manipulating flow regimes, adding structural elements such as wood or rock, reconnecting rivers with their floodplains, and restoring wetlands. A critical aspect in evaluating the effectiveness of these habitat manipulations is understanding how they influence the food resources available to critical fish species targeted for recovery and protection. Yet despite its importance, quantification of food resources has proven difficult. 

The Bureau of Reclamation, in collaboration with other federal agencies (NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is seeking a way to economically detect, count, and identify zooplankton and drift invertebrates in river and estuary systems. Problems identified that prevent the simple transfer of oceanographic techniques to rivers and streams are higher water velocities, turbidity, higher surface/depth ratio, and costs (time and money). 

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.

A brief video describing this Challenge can be found here.

Privacy Advisory

This web site is hosted by a private entity and is not a service of the Bureau of Reclamation or the Department of the Interior (DOI). The solicitation and collection of your personal or individually identifiable information is subject to the host’s privacy and security policies and will not be shared with Reclamation or DOI unless you win the Challenge. Challenge winners’ personally identifiable information must be made available to Reclamation in order to collect an award. Please consult the Challenge Specific Agreement



Accurate food counts, such as zooplankton and drift invertebrates, are instrumental in fish habitat evaluation and restoration in our rivers and streams. Although technology has been developed for automated detection and identification of zooplankton and drift invertebrates in oceanographic settings, they have not been developed for the unique environmental conditions in rivers and estuaries.  High flow rates and turbidity cause problems with automated visual systems used today. The main obstacle in estuaries is turbidity while the main obstacle in river systems is flow velocity.  In addition, the horizontal nature of rivers invokes problems not encountered in deep ocean waters (e.g., sunlight effects at the surface of water and the mixing of food sources throughout the water column in rivers due to turbulence as opposed to more stratified food webs in ocean waters).  We would like to identify devices/methods that can detect, count, and identify zooplankton and drift invertebrates in an economical way in rivers and estuary systems. There is potential for future collaboration with the Seeker in developing and testing winning solutions. 

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted.  The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Bureau of Reclamation (Seeker). The Seeker has a total prize pool budget of $30,000 to pay the top three submission(s) that meet or exceed the criteria below, an award of $10,000 each.  No awards are guaranteed unless they meet or exceed the criteria, and more than one award is not guaranteed.  If only a single submission meets or exceeds the criteria, the prize award may be as high as $15,000

To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker.  Instead, they will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. See the Challenge Specific Agreement  and the Federal Register Notice for full details. 

The Seeker believes there might be a potential for future collaboration with awarded Solver(s), although such collaboration is not guaranteed.  The Seeker may also encourage Solver(s) to further develop and test their winning submissions through subsequent round(s) of competition.  Solvers should mention if they have the ability for subsequent design and development phases and would be willing to consider future collaborations and/or subsequent competitions.

About The Seeker:  The Bureau of Reclamation is an agency of the United States Federal Government with a mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public (  

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 16, 2015.  Late submissions will not be considered.

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge?

An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge, meaning that the Seeker is requesting non-exclusive rights to use the winning solution. By contrast, Theoretical-IP Transfer means that Solvers must relinquish all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. For these forms of a Theoretical Challenge, Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.

Share This Challenge
InnoCentive Trust Partners