Con X Tech Prize, Round 2: Invasive Species & Blue Sky

Got a bold idea for the planet? Get it funded.

With $70,000 for prototypes and $20,000 for one grand prize winner, the Con X Tech Prize lets you bring your idea from blueprint to reality.

Submit by March 13, 2019

Date published: 2019/02/06

Bring your Idea to Life!

Calling anyone ready to take action on a world-changing idea to collaborate, create, and catalyze new tech for conservation!

Conservation X Labs is seeking bold ideas for technology solutions to conservation challenges. Aimed specifically at projects teams that are considering their first prototype, the Con X Tech Prize is granting 20 prototyping awards of $3,500 each to take your idea from blueprint to reality.

CXL is seeking novel and transformative tools to conserve the world’s biodiversity and end human-induced species extinctions. We will support ideas that help decision-makers, conservationists, consumers, resource managers, and policy makers understand and act on conservation problems.

We believe in radical collaboration, and the strongest solutions and project teams will draw from a handful of disciplines (e.g., behavioral sciences, engineering, computer science, molecular science, economics) and consider the impact, sustainability (financial and environmental), and scalability of their solution from the very beginning. We want to move from merely monitoring changing landscapes and species populations, to developing tangible solutions and creating real-life impact. We welcome hardware and software submissions, as well as any impactful solution idea that is enabled by technology and helps achieve a conservation outcome.

The potential benefits of your proof-of-concept can’t be understated; it can help your team validate a project idea, launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, net a strategic partnership, or even raise a successful seed investment.

But it doesn’t stop at the prototype. The 20 winners of the first stage of the competition will go on to compete in the Second Stage for the Grand Prize of $20,000!

Finalists from past rounds of the Con X Tech Prize included:

The only question is: what will you build?

Deadline to submit your idea is March 13, 2019.


The Con X Tech Prize is designed as a competition for bold, new concepts for technology-enabled solutions for conservation. Any submission should be a well thought-out concept for a solution responding to a specific conservation problem or challenge.

To enter, Participants must submit a project application on the Digital Makerspace, create a project profile that is shared and viewable by other members (registered users of the Digital Makerspace), and agree to the grant competition Official Rules when submitting their project to the Con X Tech Prize. An initial description and design (image, drawing, or computer aided design) of your proposed tech solution and answers to all application questions are required for submission, and should be uploaded to the project profile. Teams who already have working prototypes of their ideas are not eligible to apply, though those who want to make substantial modifications to existing prototypes or product pivots are eligible.

For Round 2 of the Con X Tech Prize competition, we invite Participants to submit ideas for two different categories.


Category 1 is the Invasive Species Category. CXL welcomes project submissions in response to any of the Invasive Species challenges listed on the Challenge page. In addition, we will accept any solution to an invasive species or emerging pathogen problem given the challenge is articulated clearly.

invasive mussels


Category 2 is the Blue Sky Category, whereby Participants can submit any novel, tech-enabled conservation solution idea. Participants must identify and articulate a specific problem to which their solution applies, which will improve the quality of the submission as well as the success of the tech-idea overall.

Conservation X Labs anticipates selecting up to twenty (20) Finalists and awarding an initial prototyping grant of $3,500 to each Finalist team. Approximately, ten (10) prizes will be awarded to project ideas in each of the two (2) categories for a total of twenty (20) prototyping awards, though CXL reserves the right to allocate the grant awards across the two categories that results in the most impactful and transformative pool of grant awardees. After CXL awards prototyping grant money to Finalists, winners should publically share project advances and updates on the Digital Makerspace during prototype development.

Finalists from stage 1 of the competition will be able to compete for a second stage award of $20,000, and receive design, acceleration, and investment support from CXL. Specific requirements for the second stage of the award will be released when the second stage finalists are announced.

Finalists and award winners of Round 1 of the Con X Tech Prize (that occurred between March to December 2018) are not eligible for Round 2 (opening in January 2019). All other projects currently published on the Digital Makerspace, including those that were submitted, but not selected as a Finalist, to Round 1 are eligible for Round 2, assuming they meet all other submission requirements for the competition.


  • Wednesday, January 23, 2019: Con X Tech Prize open for submissions.
  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019: Submission period closes.
  • March 2019: Peer Feedback Period.
  • Late May 2019: Finalists selected and announced.
  • Summer 2019: Prototyping Second Stage.

When the submission period closes, but before submission evaluation begins, a multi-week Peer Feedback period will begin, whereby competition participants are encouraged to solicit on their CXTP submissions and give feedback to others. Participants are encouraged to consider feedback and revise and improve their submission based on feedback.

Specific deadlines for the second stage of the competition will be shared when the Finalists are announced. We anticipate a 10-week window for prototyping and initial project development before judging for the second stage of the competition occurs.

First Stage - Submission Requirements

The Con X Tech Prize requires teams to complete a project application (all application questions and prompts) and publish a project profile on the Digital Makerspace (DMS) that is viewable and shared with all registered users of the DMS. This requires teams to prepare and provide the following information in their project application:

  • Description of a conservation problem and your proposed solution for addressing the chosen conservation problem;
  • Names of project members and collaborators. All team members must be registered as a member of the Digital Makerspace. (Teams from different disciplines are highly encouraged and reviewed favorably);
  • Description of your solution’s novelty (how it is different from existing solutions), potential impact (what it solves and why it matters), customer/end user (who it is designed for), initial value proposition (why it works); and
  • An image of the proposed solution idea or depiction of how the solution might be implemented (drawing, a computer-generated model, and/or other sketch or design).
  • If you have an existing project on the Digital Makerspace, you can submit your project on the Con X Tech Prize page via the “Submit a Project” button in the header. You will be prompted to choose which project you would like to submit, and select the category you wish to submit in. New projects will require approval from the Community Manager, and will then be prompted to submit to the Prize. Participants should check the box that indicates they agree to the Con X Tech Prize Official Rules, wish to submit their project to the competition as well as indicate which prize category the project fits (Invasives or Blue Sky).

Judging Criteria for the First Stage

Your solution will be evaluated on six equally weighted criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, and awarded up to three additional points for including team members from different disciplines or professions.

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 outcome (when considering its direct and indirect impacts)?

5. Culturally Appropriate and Socially Responsible

Does the proposed project 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?

Up to three additional points for:

Interdisciplinary or Multidisciplinary (out of three points only)

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

Our goal is to reinvent the composition of the conservation community and increase the number of disciplines, and thus, solvers and solutions. We believe that the best solutions exist at the boundaries of disciplines.

Second Stage - Submission Requirements & Judging Criteria

During the Second Stage of the Con X Tech Prize, Finalists teams will be given approximately 10 weeks to prototype their solution idea. Submission requirements and evaluation criteria for the Grand Prize Winner of the Second Stage of the Con X Tech Prize will be published when the Finalists are announced in late May 2019.