If you or someone you know likes inventing things, read on. The U.S. Coast Guard has a $255,000 prize competition to find new boater-safety solutions. It’s called the U.S. Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge. If you’re a winner, you might just save many more lives on the water.
The Coast Guard has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) for the competition. The directorate is the research and development arm for Homeland Security. The partnership gives the Coast Guard greater access to innovations. The two have partnered previously to launch competitions, too, notably for environmentally friendly mooring.
With regards to PFDs and location devices, while a variety of technologies help the Coast Guard find people in the water, the agency knows not all are widely used. For example, some electronic locators are quite expensive, keeping people from buying them. Still other boaters aren’t aware that these exist. In additional situations, comfort and style keep boaters from buying life-saving devices.
All of this is why the prize competition exists. The Coast Guard is looking for solutions that aren’t just effective. It wants ones that are affordable and could be widely adopted by boaters of all kinds. Furthermore, the solutions can be a new type of PFD, or an attachment to one. They can even be something a boater would use while wearing a life jacket.
Ultimately, the U.S. Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge wants to raise awareness of an important fact. While a PDF keeps someone afloat, a person in the water is a small, moving target. Therefore, even successful rescue missions can take hours. “Boater safety solutions that harness new designs and technologies can improve the chance of a successful rescue,” explains William N. Bryan, the under secretary for DHS S&T. “New, innovative solutions are critical. We are proud to support our nation’s maritime first responder with this important, life-saving effort.”
The U.S. Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge is a three-phase competition. Phase I ideas—the solutions outlined above—are due for submission by October 15. Five winners will receive $25,000 apiece. Five additional honorable mentions will be named, but not receive money. Regardless, select Phase I participants get to go on to Phase II, the Coast Guard’s version of the TV show Shark Tank. They’ll get to pitch their solutions to judges—the Piranha Pool—to win from another prize total of $120,000. The funds will help the winners turn their concepts into working prototypes.
Finally, in Phase III, the Coast Guard will test those prototypes alongside already approved, in-use safety devices. Here, U.S. Coast Guard Ready for Rescue Challenge participants could win additional money. Judges have a further $110,000 to award.
For more details, visit the Challenge website.