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Innovation at EPA

The Innovation Team brings new ideas and solutions to environmental protection.

The Innovation Team is rethinking EPA's approach to science and technology to support transformative change in the protection of human health and the environment.  The Team encourages exploration, tests innovative approaches, and convenes people around new ideas and emerging issues. We do this by supporting projects using innovative approaches and demonstrating the value of these approaches to people across the Agency.

Lead EPA Citizen Science Activities that Increase Public Engagement.

Citizen science offers a unique opportunity for the public and EPA to connect about environmental science and environmental protection. Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research – whether community-driven research or global investigations. Citizen science mobilizes the public to participate in the scientific process to address problems. This can include identifying research questions, collecting and analyzing data, making new discoveries, and developing technologies and applications.

The Innovation Team facilitates citizen science at EPA, explores citizen science strategies, leads communities of practice, and supports the development of low-cost tools to advance citizen science at EPA and across the federal government. Learn more about citizen science at EPA here.

Coordinate EPA Challenges and Prizes to Bring in Cost-Effective Solutions

Challenge and prize competitions are an important, cost-effective tool in Federal agencies’ innovation toolboxes. They identify and reward creative solutions to an array of problems by utilizing the talents of citizen solvers and crowdsourcing. These competitions use cash prizes or other non-cash incentives to advance the EPA’s mission, reaching beyond the usual suspects to inspire inventive approaches to issues, effective public engagement, and new ideas and technologies. 

The Innovation Team facilitates the use of Challenges and Prizes across the agency and represents EPA at the Federal Community of Practice for Challenges and Prizes. Learn more about these effors here.

Support Innovative Scientific Research on EPA Priorities

The Innovation Team runs an internal competition to fund Pathfinder Innovation Projects (PIPs). These projects challenge EPA scientists to explore the leading edge of environmental science and work to turn innovations in science and technology into new environmental protection capabilities. This internal competition provides staff with additional research time and funding in pursuit of high-risk, high reward research ideas. Learn more about the PIP competition here.

Support Innovative Research Projects on State Environmental Priorities

The ORD Innovation Team and the Office of the Science Advisor are providing a funding opportunity to apply innovative approaches to regional/state/tribal science priorities. We are encouraging the use of innovative approaches – citizen science and crowdsourcing, challenge and prize competitions, advanced monitoring technologies, and social science – which can expand and diversify EPA’s work, engage the public, and foster creative solutions to important environmental problems. This also provides a valuable opportunity to continue strengthening the relationship between ORD, regions, states, and tribes.

Our goal is to support innovative projects that address regional/state/tribal science priorities and lead to more efficient and effective environmental programs. Learn more about the projects here.