A panel of judges will evaluate entries based on the following criteria

  • Wearability: How comfortable is the life jacket? (e.g. Does it restrict movement? Would a boater be likely to wear it because it is less bulky or more comfortable than other jackets available today?)
  • Reliability: Does it work every time? Are there any chances for potential failures? Does wearer have to do something to make it work or does it function autonomously?
  • Cost: What is the expected pricing? Is it affordable for the average boater? (A retail price point of $50-$60 is encouraged, but not mandatory).
  • Innovation: How creative or original is the solution? Are any new technologies or materials being utilized?

In addition to review by the judges, submissions will be voted on by the public through BoatUS Foundation’s webpage and Facebook page. Public voting will count towards 25% of the submissions overall score.


  • Prototype or theoretical design submissions are allowed.
  • Multiple entries are permitted.
  • The competition is open to anyone – professionals, amateurs and students alike. Additionally, teams and groups are encouraged to apply. Submitted designs must not be products that are commercially available or approved by any governing authority or testing facility.
  • This is an international competition.  Submissions are not limited to the Untied States. International entries are accepted.
  • All applications must be submitted with either a link to a video demonstration of the product (for prototype submissions) or a one page graphic summary and/or video explanation (for theoretical submissions). Videos may not be more than 4 minutes total running time.
  • Please make sure that contact information is current and will be current for at least one year after the final submission deadline.
  • All submissions must be submitted through the online Entry Form, and must be received by April 15th 2015. Any submissions mailed to BoatUS Foundation will not be accepted or returned to the sender.


  • Contestants are required to video tape their product(s) in use, in a pool.
  • The video must clearly demonstrate how the prototype floats a person in the water.
  • The video should show front, side and rear angles of the prototype in use.
  • Videos must then be posted on YouTube, with a video link included in the entry form.
  • Component and material list with cost estimates must be included with entry form.
  • Mailed submission will not be accepted and WILL NOT BE RETURNED.


  • Theoretical submission can be no longer than 5 pages.
  • A one page graphical summary (does not count toward 5 page submission) or a video (similar to a commercial or a slideshow presentation) depicting the theoretical concept either through slides, video, pictures and/or narration must be included.
  • Videos must be posted on YouTube, with a video link included in the entry form.
  • Component and material list with cost estimates must be included with entry form.
  • Mailed submission will not be accepted and WILL NOT BE RETURNED.



  • The winning design will receive $10,000.00 in U.S. dollars awarded at the 2015 IBEX Exhibition and Conference. The first runner up will received $3,000, and the second runner up will receive $2,000.
  • Winner does not need to be present to win—but if we are unable to contact winner through provided information, prize will be forfeited after 30 days.
  • Prizes must be claimed within 30 days of valid notification.
  • Winners are responsible for all applicable federal, state or local taxes, tariffs or import duty fees and must provide social security or federal tax i.d. number as a condition of receiving the prize.


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Terms & Conditions

  • All applicants agree/grant that any design that they submit to the competition may be used fully by the BoatUS Foundation and Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA) and its parent company, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) (hereafter collectively known as the “Organizer”) for marketing and promotional purposes directly related to the competition. This use may include publication in any Organizer publications, printed materials, or electronic media, including, but not limited to the Organizer web site, catalog, annual books and presentations. Use may also include publication in a media sponsor publication by the Organizer.
  • Videotaping of prototype designs by contestants is done at their own rick. Organizer is not liable for the actions of the contestant or anyone else involved in the filming of the prototype use. Contestant will hold harmless and indemnify Organizer against any an all claims and actions arising out of the participation in the Contest.
  • The Organizer, its members, agents or competition judges acknowledge they have no intellectual or other property rights to any entries, whether conceptual, experimental or prototypical, except as expressly provided in these rules. Attaining such rights, whether based on patent, trademark, copyright or otherwise, is the responsibility of the applicant, and each entrant is strongly encouraged to do so prior to submitting his/her entry. By submitting his/her/their/its design(s), applicants expressly waive and release any and all claims against Organizer, their directors, officers, employees, members and agents based on or arising in any way from alleged infringement of patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret or other intellectual property law and relating to the commercial use, sale or exploitation of the design(s).
  • The applicant retains ownership of all designs & prototypes but gives the Organizer permission to use, publish or republish the design and the applicant’s biographical information and pictures through any media deemed appropriate by the Organizer. Applicant must warrant that he/she/they are the sole creator of the design, which consists entirely of the applicant’s original work. All rights revert back to the applicant in April 2016, except as otherwise expressly provided herein
  • Organizer's use of the designs in publications as provided herein as a result of the competition does not constitute Organizers’ endorsement of the products or services.
  • Applicants must have sufficient permission of any recognizable models or other persons appearing in the design to be able to grant to the Organizers the right to display their design submission online and must provide evidence of such permission as a condition of receipt of the prize.
  • Employees or agents of BoatUS, BoatUS Foundation, PFDMA or NMMA, and their immediate families are not eligible to participate in this competition. Notwithstanding the above, member organizations of PFDMA and NMMA are expressly eligible to participate in this competition.

All judges' decisions are final.