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DHS and Coast Guard Launch $255K Ready for Rescue Challenge to Develop New Boater Safety Solutions



The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC), today 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 a person is separated from their boat or other watercraft, they can be left isolated in open waters. A life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) 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 performing the duties as undersecretary for science and technology. “New, innovative solutions are critical. We are proud to support our nation’s maritime first responder with this important, life-saving effort.”

This call for concepts is the first phase of an anticipated three-phase prize competition. Phase one 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 PM ET Oct. 15, 2018. The judges will evaluate the 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 one monetary prize winners.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is devoted to helping boaters in distress. One critical challenge is finding people in the water,” said Bert Macesker, RDC executive director. “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 on the success of our previous prize competition partnership for environmentally friendly mooring.”

In phase two, selected participants from phase one 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 three, the Coast Guard will field test prototypes alongside standard Coast Guard-approved safety equipment. At the conclusion of phase three, the judging panel may award a total $110,000 in additional monetary prizes.

For more information about the Ready for Rescue Challenge, visit