Con X Tech Prize, Round 1: Oceans & Blue Sky

Bold Tech Ideas to solve Conservation’s Greatest Challenges! Bring your prototype to life with the Con X Tech Prize! $90,000 in grants
Closed for Entries

Official Rules



1. PURPOSE. The Conservation X Tech Prize is a private, tiered grant competition intended to support the development of new conservation technologies pursuant to the objectives and stated goals of the Conservation X Labs’ mission. The funds awarded through the grant competition are intended to support the development of new prototypes and products at various stages of development. The grants do not constitute an award, prize, or lottery.

2. SPONSOR. The grant competition is sponsored and administered by CONSERVATION X LABS, a 501c3 entity, incorporated in Washington DC.

3. ELIGIBILITY. Subject to the additional restrictions below, the Con X Tech Prize (the “grant competition”) is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, as well as well as any other jurisdiction where the competition is not prohibited or restricted by law. The grant competition is not open to residents of Quebec or any country subject to international sanctions which would limit participation or the receipt or transfer of funding. Participants must be at least 18 years of age (or the local age of majority where they live, if higher). Participants who already have working prototypes of their ideas are not eligible to apply, although those who want to make substantial modifications to existing prototypes or product pivots are eligible.

4. TERM. The grant competition will open at 12:00 a.m. EST on Monday, March 19, 2018, and initial submissions will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday June 30, 2018. Participants will advance as described below until the grant competition ends with the announcement of the second stage winners around September of 2018.

5. HOW TO ENTER. The purpose of the grant competition is to encourage Participants to develop transformative and impactful tech-enabled solutions to address conservation challenges.

The grant competition will consist of two stages. In the first stage of the grant competition, up to twenty (20) submissions will be selected as Finalists and permitted to advance to the second stage. In the second stage of the grant competition, selected submissions (Finalists) must develop a proof-of-concept of their submission (prototype or advanced model or demo) and submit additional materials to be considered for the second stage award. All submissions must be in English and must comply with any specified requirements.

First Stage: The steps listed below must be completed by the applicable deadline for a submission to be considered.

  1. Required for ALL First Stage Entries.
    1. User Account. As part of your user account set-up, you must create a personal profile on, completing all required fields and following all instructions (required of each Participant, including each member of a team).
    2. Project Profile. Create a project profile on, completing all fields and prompts in the project application (including those marked as optional) and following all instructions (“Project Profile”).
      1. Description of a conservation problem and your proposed solution for addressing the chosen conservation problem;
      2. Names of project members and collaborators (all team members must be registered as a member of the Digital Makerspace);
      3. Your solution’s novelty (how it is different from existing solutions), potential impact (what it solves and why this matters), customer/end user (who it is designed for), initial value proposition (why it works);
      4. An image of a proposed solution idea or how the solution might be implemented (drawing, a computer-generated model and/or other sketch or design); and
      5. Submit the Project to the contest by checking the box at the on the Con X Tech Prize application page that indicates the Participant agrees to the Official Rules, wishes to submit their project to the competition, and to which category the project belongs.
  1. First Stage Deadlines and Categories
    1. Submission period begins 12:00 a.m. EST on March 19, 2018, and closes 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30, 2018.
    2. There are two categories for which Participants can submit projects to
      1. Category 1 is the Oceans Category, where by Participants submit solutions in response to the Ten Grand Challenges for Ocean Conservation on or
      2. Category 2 is the Blue Sky Category, where by Participants can submit any novel, tech-enabled conservation solution idea.
  1. Second Stage:
    1. The (up to) twenty (20) Finalists (teams) selected to proceed to stage two will have time to use initial grant funds to develop a proof-of-concept of their proposed concept (prototype and/or advanced model or demo). At the end of the second stage, teams will share project advances/ updates via comments posted on the project profile, proof-of-concept (prototype or advanced demo), a two-minute video describing the value proposition, and an explanation of how their proof-of-concept meets the team’s proposed performance metrics. Specific deadlines for submitting the additional second stage materials and requirements will be shared when the Finalists are announced.

Submission of Project Ideas by Minors: Individuals under the age of 18 (minors) are not eligible to participate in the grant competition.

Other Submission Terms: Consistent with the agile and collaborative nature of developing tech-enabled conservation solutions, Conservation X Labs may decide that reasonable modifications to submission, judging, or other criteria (for example, additional clarification or detail for submission requirements) are appropriate for the grant competition to run smoothly and to help the Participants make their best contributions to the conservation technology community. Conservation X Labs reserves the right to modify or supplement these Official Rules, and to communicate such modifications or supplements to Participants, as Conservation X Labs deems reasonable – including via the Digital Makerspace.

A Participant may submit more than one project, but must create a Project Profile and fulfill all submission requirements for each project. Each project will be evaluated independently.

The use of multiple identities for personal profiles is prohibited. Incomplete, forged, altered, automated, lost, late, misdirected, garbled, or illegible submissions, or submissions that do not meet stated size, formatting or other requirements will not be considered. In the event of a dispute, submissions will be deemed to have been submitted by the owner of the Digital Makerspace user account from which a submission was made, provided that person satisfies all other grant competition eligibility requirements. If there is a dispute as to the identity of that person, the authorized account subscriber of the email address used to register for the user account will be deemed the owner. The authorized account subscriber is the natural person who is assigned the email address by the ISP or other organization responsible for assigning email addresses.

Any question regarding the eligibility or appropriateness of any submissions, including videos, for consideration in the grant competition shall be resolved by the Conservation X Labs in its sole discretion. Conservation X Labs reserves the right to disqualify entries by persons who submit false or misleading submission information or who the Conservation X Labs determines to be tampering with or abusing any aspect of the grant competition. Conservation X Labs reserves the right to disqualify Participants whose submissions are frivolous or fail to meet applicable requirements.

6. COMPETITION CRITERIA AND WINNER SELECTION. Participants (or teams) will be evaluated as described below until grant awardees are chosen. At each stage, submissions will be evaluated on the basis of the Project Profile, information provided in the Project Application, and any supplemental information requested by Conservation X Labs. Any content or material not reflected on the Project Profile, submitted as part of the Project Application or as requested by Conservation X Labs will not be considered. If a submission is disqualified or fails to progress to the next stage, the Participant or team will not have the opportunity to resubmit the project, but may appeal to Finalist teams to consider integrating elements of their submission and/or specific team members into a Finalist team’s project idea.

First Stage: At the close of the First Stage, Conservation X Labs will award up to twenty (20) grants to advance to the second stage based on the following six (6) evenly weighted criteria, with the opportunity to earn up to three additional points for including team members from different disciplines or professions (criterion 7).

1. Transformative & Novel How revolutionary is the proposed solution and how likely is it to upend fundamental assumptions about what is possible through its approach? Would this solution be ‘ground-breaking,’ with the potential to shift the context of the conservation challenge? How different is it from existing solutions on the market?

2. Impactful Does the idea demonstrate an understanding of the specific conservation need for which the solution is designed? How likely is the proposed solution to achieve significant outcomes that dramatically and positively affect and address the problem at hand? How would you know when you are successful?

3. Financially Sustainable and Scalable How simple is the solution in its design, easily replicable and sufficiently universal to be applied to a larger number of species and/or ecosystems, across multiple geographies and cultures? Does the idea have great potential to work on a larger scale than the prototype/pilot studies? Does it respond to a critical conservation need, market, or demand?

4. Ecologically Sustainable Does the solution idea result in a significant net positive environmental and social outcome (when considering its direct and indirect impacts)?

5. Culturally Appropriate and Socially Responsible Does the proposal cause any undue harm to a specific group or population? Is it appropriately sensitive and give due credit to different cultures? Does it benefit the public good and not unfairly promote or discriminate against a population?

6. Feasible Is the proposed solution technologically, culturally, and economically realistic, with an acceptable degree of risk, from idea to deployment?

7. Interdisciplinary or Multidisciplinary Does this project successfully tap different professions, skillsets or disciplines in order to improve the impact of the solution idea?

Second Stage:

Finalists are required to share project advances and updates on the Digital Makerspace, but at least a proof-of- concept (prototype or advanced demo), a two-minute video describing the value proposition, and an explanation of how their proof-of-concept meets the team’s proposed performance metrics must be shared by the close of the second stage of the competition. At the close of the second stage, Conservation X Labs will select one (1) second-stage awardee based on the following five (5) criteria:

  1. Demonstrated functionality of their prototype and successfully meeting the team’s proposed performance metrics
  2. Novelty and potential for a transformative solution
  3. Strength of the value proposition (including financial sustainability, scalability and usability by proposed customer or audience)
  4. Incorporating (validated) input, concepts, or a team member from a non-Finalist team that improves the overall strength of the project idea and prototype (up to 3 points)
  5. Securing any additional funding, matching, or other support for the proposed solution (up to 3 points)

Announcement of Challenge Round Results:

In late July 2018, Conservation X Labs will select up to twenty (20) first stage submissions to receive prototyping grants and advance to the Second Stage based on the seven criteria above.

Sometime in or around September of 2018, Conservation X Labs will select one (1) second stage awardee from the twenty (20) Finalists based on the five criteria above.

7. RULES FOR SUBMISSIONS. All content provided by a Participant and/or Participant’s teammate(s) in connection with the Participant or team’s participation in the grant competition, including, without limitation, any ideas, designs, plans, images, videos, music, prototypes, software, source code, logos, names, or any intellectual property, including but not limited to any content that is or may be protectable by patent, trademark, copyright, or trade secret (“Project Content”), must be (a) the original content of the Participant and/or Participant’s teammate(s), or (b) third-party content for which the Participant has secured all necessary consents, approvals, assignments, or licenses for such Project Content to be used by Participant, Conservation X Labs, judges, and other members of the Conservation X Labs community as contemplated herein. By posting, linking, tagging, or otherwise associating any Project Content with the grant competition, Participant represents and warrants that the Project Content, and the use of the Project Content by Participant, Conservation X Labs, judges, and Conservation X Labs users as contemplated herein, will not violate any rights of any person or entity, including, without limitation, any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, or other intellectual property rights, or rights of privacy and publicity, or violate any applicable national, federal, state, or local laws, regulations, or policies, including those relating to export control.

Video Standards: In addition to the above, the following standards apply to videos:

  1. i. Videos must be the original creation of the Participant and/or a Participant’s teammate(s)
  2. ii. Videos must not depict or name any person who has not given written consent for such depiction (if requested, Participant agrees to provide evidence of such written consent to Conservation X Labs)
  3. iii. Videos must not:
    1. Contain any advertisements, commercial endorsements, or content disparaging to any person or company (including competitors of Conservation X Labs)
    2. Contain any content that is obscene, vulgar, or defamatory, or that is disparaging on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age
    3. Depict any activity, or imply any activity, that violates the law, involves drug or alcohol use, is sexual in nature, involves gambling, or which may result in physical injury or property damage
    4. Contain any content that is in poor taste, unsportsmanlike, or contrary to the values of Conservation X Labs and the Digital Makerspace community

Conservation X Labs reserves the right to terminate any Participant’s participation in the grant competition if, in Conservation X Labs’ sole discretion, any Project Content, including, without limitation, any video, submitted by the Participant or a teammate of the Participant fails to comply with restrictions described in this section or any other applicable provision of these Official Rules. Conservation X Labs reserves the right to remove any Project Content from Conservation X Labs or Conservation X Labs’ social media accounts that Conservation X Labs in its sole discretion deems objectionable for any reason.

8. OWNERSHIP OF SUBMISSIONS; LICENSES. As between Conservation X Labs and Participant, except as expressly stated herein, Participant retains ownership of all rights, including intellectual property rights, in and to the Project Content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Participant acknowledges that a goal of the grant competition is to encourage the development of contributions that may be built upon or may inspire the conservation technology community, including users of the Digital Makerspace, and accordingly, Participants grant a limited license to others Users of the Digital Makerspace to access and use Project Content in connection with participating on the Site. To the extent a license or other restriction applies that may restrict such use of any Project Content, Participant agrees to identify such Project Content and the applicable license or other restriction on the Project profile page.

Conservation X Labs is not responsible for any failure by any Participant, Digital Makerspace user, or other third party to comply with any license or restriction applicable to any Project Content, or any other use, replication, distribution, and/or modification of any Project Content by any person other than Conservation X Labs (including, without limitation, the commercialization of any ideas). Conservation X Labs’ Terms of Use does apply, whereby, other than as expressly provided herein, or in a separate Agreement between a Digital Makerspace User and Conservation X Labs, no User shall acquire any license or ownership in other Users’ User Content.

As a condition of participation in the grant competition, Participant provides Conservation X Labs, its affiliates, subsidiaries, agents, and advertising partners, a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, distribute, publicly perform, create a derivative work from, and publicly display, in any and all media (now known or later developed), submissions (including, without limitation, videos) (1) for the purposes of reviewing, assessing, testing, and evaluating the submission in connection with the Grant competition; (2) for the purpose of promoting the Project Content and/or the Grant competition to members of the Conservation X Labs community or others; and (3) in connection with advertising and promotion for the benefit of Conservation X Labs, the judges and any advertising partners associated with Conservation X Labs or the Grant competition. Participant agrees to sign any additional waivers, licenses or releases that Conservation X Labs reasonably requests in order to make use of the rights granted herein.

Participant understands that, excluding the potential of a grant award, Participant will not receive any compensation from Conservation X Labs in connection with Participant’s participation in the grant competition, and Participant is solely responsible for any costs or expenses arising from such participation.

No Conflicting Obligations / Government Employees: By participating, Participant represents and warrants that Participant is not subject to any conflicting obligations that may restrict Participant’s participation in the grant or the use of Participant’s submissions by Conservation X Labs, judges, or other parties as contemplated herein. A Participant who is an employee of the U.S. Government, or who is employed by any other entity that may restrict participation in the grant, represents and warrants that he or she has obtained all necessary approvals needed to participate in the grant and submit intellectual property as contemplated by these Official Rules.

9. INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM SUBMISSION PERMITTED. A Participant may enter individually, or groups of Participants may enter as a team. Each Participant in a team must agree individually to and comply with these Official Rules. The failure of any Participant to comply in any manner with these Official Rules may, in Conservation X Labs’ sole discretion, result in the disqualification of the Participant’s teammates. The project owner and first project instigator shall be automatically considered the captain (“Team Captain”). By entering as a member of a team, a Participant acknowledges and agrees to the following rules for teams:

  1. A Participant may not submit any Project Content on behalf of the team without the agreement of each member of the Team.
  2. Each member of the team is responsible for ensuring the compliance of the team with these Official Rules, including the compliance of any and all Project Content with these Official Rules regardless of which member creates or submits it.
  3. If a Project submitted by a team of Participants is awarded a grant, such grant will be awarded to the Team Captain. It is up to the Team Captain to decide how to allocate the grant.

10.GRANT AWARD STRUCTURE. All monetary values are in United States Dollars.

First Stage Prototyping Grants: Subject to verification of eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules, up to twenty (20) project team Finalists will be awarded a prototyping grant of $3,500 each.

Second Stage Grant: Subject to the number and quality of the proof-of-concept submissions (prototype and/or advanced demo or model) from the first stage prototyping awards, we will provide one (1) second-stage grant of $20,000. We will also provide additional support to assist the development and scaling of the idea through the Digital Makerspace and in partnership with Conservation X Labs.

Please allow 8 to 10 weeks after the end of each stage for the grants to be fulfilled. Conservation X Labs is not responsible for any fluctuations in the value of any prize (e.g., due to differences in exchange rates) occurring throughout the duration of the Grant competition or otherwise before the grant is fulfilled.

11. WINNER NOTIFICATION AND ACCEPTANCE. Conservation X Labs will notify Participants who advance past Stage 1 by email or phone call to each Team Captain or individual Participant (as applicable). The Finalists and second stage awardee will find out their ranking via an announcement on the Digital Makerspace website,, in late July 2018.


In order to receive a grant, a potential grantee and/or Finalists must respond to Conservation X Labs’ notification within five (5) business days by emailing Conservation X Labs at Potential grantees may be required to complete an affidavit of eligibility and/or provide other documentation Conservation X Labs reasonably requires to verify eligibility and compliance with these Official Rules, as well as a liability and publicity release (except where prohibited by law). Required documents must be notarized, if applicable, and returned within five (5) business days.

Conservation X Labs’ inability to reach a potential grantee after a reasonable (as solely determined by Conservation X Labs) effort has been made, the failure of a potential grantee to timely respond to a grant notification, the return of any award notification as undeliverable, and/or a potential grantee’s failure to comply with any term or condition of these Official Rules may, in Conservation X Labs’ sole discretion, result in the potential grantee’s disqualification. Conservation X Labs in its sole discretion may select a substitute grantee by awarding the grant to another member of a winning team or by awarding the grant to the submission that received the next highest score according to the judging criteria. If Conservation X Labs makes a reasonable effort to select another potential grantee and that grantee does not respond or is ineligible, the grant will not be awarded and will remain the property of Conservation X Labs.

A Finalist/grantee may waive the right to receive a grant award. Grants are non-assignable and non-transferable.

Taxes: Each grantee is solely responsible for reporting and payment of any taxes on a grant. Grantees are solely responsible for all national, federal, state, and local taxes on grant value and, as applicable, will be issued an IRS Form 1099 (or other applicable form) based on the grant value determined by Conservation X Labs. Grant winners agree and acknowledge that Conservation X Labs may be required to withhold and remit a portion of grant value to comply with applicable tax laws.

13. TERMINATION. In the event the grant competition is compromised by a virus, non-authorized human intervention, tampering, or other causes beyond the reasonable control of Conservation X Labs which corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper operation of the grant competition, Conservation X Labs reserves the right in its sole discretion to suspend, delay, modify, or terminate the grant competition. Should the grant competition be terminated prior to the end date, Conservation X Labs reserves the right to award grants based on submissions received before the termination date. Proof of sending or submission of any Project Content will not be deemed proof of receipt by Conservation X Labs.

14. PRIVACY POLICY; TERMS OF SERVICE. Participant agrees that Conservation X Labs’ privacy policy and terms of service apply to Participant’s participation in the grant competition. By participating, Participant represents and warrants that Participant has read and agrees to Conservation X Labs’ privacy policy and terms of service located at

In addition to any collection, sharing, or use permitted by Conservation X Labs’ privacy policy, by participating, Participant expressly consents to the sharing of all submission information (including, without limitation, information submitted to a Participant’s personal profile and Project Profile) with Conservation X Labs and other parties, such as judges, in connection with the administration of the grant competition. Participant grants Conservation X Labs permission to contact Participant using the information provided on the Participant’s personal profile or Project Profile, including name, address, email address, and phone number. In the event of a conflict between the privacy policy or terms of service and these Official Rules, these Official Rules will control.

15. PUBLICITY RELEASE. By entering the grant competition, Participant agrees, irrespective of any moral rights to the Project Content Participant may have, that Conservation X Labs has the absolute right and permission, except to the extent prohibited by law, to use Participant’s name, voice, likeness, and biographical information in connection with the grant competition for any commercial, publicity, or promotional purpose without limitation, review, approval or compensation.

16. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY; WAIVER. The limitations of liability and waiver apply to the extent permitted by the laws of the country, state, or province of the applicable Participant. To the extent any of the following limitations are not permitted under the laws of the state, province, or country where the Participant lives, Participant agrees that the remaining portions of these limitations that are permissible shall apply to the maximum extent permitted by law.

Conservation X Labs, its advertising partners and grant providers (and any of the respective parent companies, affiliates, and subsidiaries of each), grant competition judges, any other party that assists Conservation X Labs in operating the website or conducting the grant competition, and any social media or service provider used in connection with the grant competition (including, without limitation, YouTube, Vimeo, and Youku) (the “Released Parties”) are not responsible for illegible, lost, late, incomplete, misdirected, or undeliverable email; or for any computer, telephone, satellite, cable, network, electronic or Internet hardware or software malfunctions, failures, connections, or availability, or garbled, corrupt or jumbled transmissions, service provider/Internet/website accessibility, availability, or traffic congestion, or any technical, typographical, or other error, or unauthorized human intervention, or the incorrect or inaccurate capture of registration information, or the failure to capture, or loss of, any such information. The Released Parties assume no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, or technical error.

By participating in the grant competition, Participant agrees to irrevocably and unconditionally waive any rights to bring any lawsuit, claim, action, or proceeding against any of the Released Parties in connection with the grant competition.

17. INDEMNIFICATION. By participating, Participant agrees to release, defend, indemnify, and hold harmless each of the Released Parties from any and all claims, lawsuits, judgments, causes of action, proceedings, demands, fines, penalties, liability, costs and expenses (including, without limitation, reasonable outside attorneys’ fees) that may arise in connection with (i) Participant’s breach of any representation or warranty hereunder; (ii) the Project Content; or (iii) Participant’s acceptance, use, or misuse of any grant. To the extent the laws of Participant’s country, state, or province limit or do not permit any of the foregoing indemnifications, Participant agrees that the indemnification obligations that are permissible shall apply to the maximum extent permitted by law.

18. BINDING NATURE; CONSTRUCTION. By participating in the grant competition, Participant agrees to be bound by all applicable laws, these Official Rules, the Digital Makerspace Terms of Use, and the decisions of Conservation X Labs, which are final and binding in all respects.The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Official Rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any such provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, these Official Rules shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or unenforceable provision were not contained therein.

19. VENUE & BINDING ARBITRATION. Any dispute, controversy or claim between any Participant and the Conservation X Labs arising out of or concerning the provisions, operations, or effect of this grant competition shall be finally resolved in accordance with the arbitration provisions (and the jurisdiction, venue, and similar provisions related thereto) of the District of Columbia.

20. CONTACT. Any questions, complaints or issues should be addressed to or the Prize Leader. The winners of the grant competition will be listed on Conservation X Labs’ Digital Makerspace and available at


Con X Tech Prize: Hacking Extinction

Find Green

Validation Phase
Connecting green-minded people with green-practicing businesses through a 'Green Yelp'.


Validation Phase
Building a data-driven digital detection tool to help screen containerized cargo for illegal or unwanted wildlife parts, products or derivatives. Playing the needle in the haystack game.


Cassie Ann Hoffman [2352]
Product Manager
Conservation X Labs

First Stage Judges - Oceans

Jake Hanft [35]
Program Manager
Schmidt Marine
San Francisco, United States
Shah Selbe [6]
Los Angeles, United States
Andrew Thaler [18]
Blackbeard Biologic
Saint Michaels, United States
Barbara Martinez [270]
Open Innovation Director
Conservation X Labs
Baltimore, United States
Kate Wing [16]
the databranch
David Lang [0]
Berkeley, United States

First Stage Judges - Blue Sky

Dorothy Jones-Davis [12]
Executive Director
Nation of Makers
Silver Spring, United States
Lucas Joppa [0]
Sammamish, United States
Tatjana Dzambazova [0]
AI Strategy, Autodesk AI Lab
Autodesk Inc.
Mill Valley, United States
Dara Dotz [0]
San Francisco, United States