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DHS, Coast Guard launch Ready for Rescue Challenge

Big prize competition to help develop new boater safety solutions
September 18, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center, has launched the U.S. Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge, a $255,000 prize competition that seeks boater safety solutions that will help make it easier to find people in the water.

When people are separated from their boat or other watercraft, they can be left isolated in open waters. A life jacket or personal flotation device keeps a person afloat while they seek safety. However, a person in the water is a small, moving target, and even in a successful rescue mission, locating the person can take hours.

“Boater safety solutions that harness new designs and technologies can improve the chance of a successful rescue,” said William N. Bryan, DHS senior official serving as under secretary for science and technology. “New, innovative solutions are critical. We are proud to support our nation’s maritime first responders with this important, life-saving effort.”

This call for concepts is the first phase of an anticipated three-phase prize competition. Phase I concepts could include a new or updated life jacket or PFD, an attachment to a life jacket or PFD, or an additional device for boaters. The best concepts will be effective, affordable, and hold the potential for wide adoption by recreational boaters.

Those interested in participating in the challenge should submit their concept by 4:59 p.m., Monday, Oct. 15. The judges will evaluate submissions and select up to five monetary prize winners and up to five non-monetary honorable mention award winners. A total of $25,000 will be distributed evenly among each of the Phase I monetary prize winners.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is devoted to helping boaters in distress," said Bert Macesker, RDC executive director. "One critical challenge is finding people in the water. Partnering with DHS S&T allows us to increase the Coast Guard’s access to innovations that make people in the water more detectable. We hope to build off the success of our previous prize competition partnership for environmentally friendly mooring.”  

In Phase II, selected participants from Phase I will participate in a Piranha Pool to pitch their solution and compete for a total prize pool of $120,000. This prize will assist each monetary prize winner in developing their concept into a working prototype. In Phase III, the Coast Guard will field test prototypes alongside standard Coast Guard-approved safety equipment. At the conclusion of Phase III, the judging panel may award a total $110,000 in additional monetary prizes.

For more information about the Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge, go to www.readyforrescuechallenge.com.