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 <p> Arsenic Sensor Challenge – Stage 1</p>

Arsenic Sensor Challenge – Stage 1

STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 217
Posted: Dec 13 2016
Challenge ID: 9933765
Team Project Rooms are available on this Challenge. Team Share Challenge Share

This Challenge seeks to identify new or improved sensors, devices, or test kits to test for arsenic in water within natural and engineered systems. Solutions must improve on the current arsenic measurement methods. Areas of needed improvement include: performance, ease of use, reduction in hazardous waste production, data interpretation, and cost. This is Stage 1 of a planned two-stage Challenge, with the second stage consisting of a prototype demonstration and a larger prize purse. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is the Seeker for this Challenge. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Xylem, Inc., the Indian Health Service, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Agricultural Research Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated with Reclamation on various aspects of this Challenge.


This web site is hosted by a private entity and is not a service of Reclamation, Xylem, EPA, 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 only be shared with Reclamation if 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.


A brief video describing this Challenge can be found here:

Measuring arsenic in the environment and in drinking water is important for protecting human health. Drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities are subject to arsenic regulations in order to limit human exposure and environmental contamination. Privately-owned drinking water wells are tested for arsenic in order to prevent exposure. Contaminated site cleanup requires screening to know where arsenic contamination occurs. Regulatory compliance includes collecting and analyzing samples using approved methods with results available days to weeks later. While current analytical methods are suitable for ensuring regulatory compliance, there is a need for rapid, low-cost monitoring of arsenic that would benefit water treatment plant operations, wastewater monitoring, contaminated site remediation, private well owners, scientific research, and other interested parties.

Routine arsenic monitoring can identify changes in process performance and improve operations. Rapid, on-site monitoring of arsenic in the field can help identify hot spots for more targeted sampling and remediation. Potential barriers to the widespread implementation of on-site arsenic monitoring include the generation of hazardous waste, the unreliability of analytical methods that rely on color charts, the high level of operator effort required to conduct monitoring, and the cost of online analyzers. Collectively, Reclamation and our collaborators hope to stimulate innovation in water sensing technologies that can lead to more effective, affordable, and reliable methods to monitor water quality. We are launching the Arsenic Sensor Challenge to accelerate the development of new arsenic monitoring methods.

This Challenge consists of two stages:

  • Stage 1 is a Theoretical Challenge. Participants will be asked to submit an idea, along with detailed descriptions, specifications, supporting data or literature, and requirements necessary to bring the idea closer to becoming a product.
  • If Stage 1 produces winning concepts, Stage 2 is planned as a subsequent Reduction to Practice Challenge. Participants will be asked to present their technology and submit a working prototype that puts their idea into practice.

Stage 1 may award up to 5 prizes from a total prize award pool of $50,000. 

Stage 2 envisions a total prize pool of $250,000 and awarding up to 2 prizes.

In addition to the direct monetary award for Stage 2, Reclamation will invite industry, non-profit organizations, and venture capital representatives to be present at the Stage 2 presentations and testing. Participating industry and venture capital representatives will also have the ability to seek and secure potential business deals with Solvers.

This posting only launches the Stage 1 competition. However, information on the envisioned framework and prizes for Stage 2 are available here: Stage 2 will be officially launched and announced with a separate posting and a separate Federal Register Notice.

Stage 1 is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon evaluation by the Seeker (Reclamation) and the judging panel appointed by the Seeker. The Seeker has a total prize pool budget of $50,000 to pay the top five submission(s) that meet or exceed the criteria below an award of at least $10,000 each. No awards are guaranteed unless they meet or exceed the criteria, and more than one award is not guaranteed. Full or partial awards will be considered for solutions that meet all or some of the criteria, respectively. If only a single submission meets or exceeds the criteria, a single prize award may be as high as $20,000.

To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights to the Seeker and will not have to grant the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. Please note that any proposal submitted will not be treated as confidential information. Accordingly, Solvers should take whatever steps they deem necessary to protect their proprietary rights in their solutions prior to submitting their written proposal for consideration in the Challenge (e.g. filing provisional or full patent applications on the solution described in the written proposal submitted prior to submission). See the Challenge-Specific Agreement for full details.

Submission period ends on March 13, 2017: Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on March 13, 2017. Late submissions will not be considered.


After the Challenge submission deadline, a Judging Panel will evaluate the submissions and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s). The Judging Panel may be composed of Federal and/or Non Federal scientists, engineers, and other technical experts, including subject matter experts from the listed collaborators for this Challenge. All persons or entities that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions. Decisions by the Seeker cannot be contested.


Solvers do not have to participate in Stage 1 to be eligible to participate in Stage 2. Stage 1 participants are not required to participate in Stage 2. Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker or Seeker’s Collaborators to be eligible to receive an award. Solvers who have transferred their IP rights in their solution to another, or otherwise entered into any commercial exclusive arrangement with another for the exploitation of their IP rights in their solution prior to the end of the Challenge shall not be eligible for a Challenge award. See the Challenge-Specific Agreement for full details.

This Challenge is being conducted under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (15 U.S. Code § 3719). The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 states that awards for this Prize Competition may only be given to an individual that is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or an entity that is incorporated in and whose primary place of business is in the United States, subject to verification by the Seeker before Prizes are awarded. Further restrictions apply – see the Challenge-Specific Agreement and the Federal Register Notice for full eligibility details.

Note: Submissions can be entertained from all Solvers regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens/entities. Meritorious submissions from non-eligible persons and entities, if any, will be recognized in publications issued by the Seeker announcing the results of the competition, such as press releases. Non-U.S citizens/permanent residents or non-U.S entities can also be included on U.S. teams. However, prizes — whether monetary or otherwise — will only be awarded to eligible persons and entities under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (15 U.S.C. § 3719).  


The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is the Federal sponsoring agency and Seeker for this Challenge 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 (  


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Xylem, Inc, the Indian Health Service, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Agricultural Research Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated with Reclamation on various aspects of this Challenge such as design, technical review, and judging.    

EPA contributed significant efforts to the design and will help judge this Challenge. EPA has a mission to protect human health and the environment. To accomplish this mission, the EPA develops and enforces regulations, give grants, studies environmental issues, publishes information, sponsors partnerships, and teaches people about the environment.

Xylem became a co-sponsor of his Challenge through its contribution to the prize purse. Xylem will also contribute technical review support and will help judge this Challenge. Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to developing innovative technology solutions to the world’s water challenges. The Company’s products and services move, treat, analyze, monitor and return water to the environment in public utility, industrial, residential and commercial building services, and agricultural settings. With its October 2016 acquisition of Sensus, Xylem added smart metering, network technologies and advanced data analytics for water, gas and electric utilities to its portfolio of solutions. The combined Company’s nearly 16,000 employees bring broad applications expertise with a strong focus on identifying comprehensive, sustainable solutions. Headquartered in Rye Brook, New York with 2015 revenue of $3.7 billion, Xylem does business in more than 150 countries through a number of market-leading product brands. 

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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 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. For details about treatment of IP rights, please see the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

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