Identify innovative ways to forecast and characterize fishing activity to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and win part of a $1 million prize pool.


The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) are launching a prize challenge to identify innovative solutions from across the commercial and academic communities to forecast maritime vessel traffic involved in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The ability to forecast IUU fishing will inform U.S. and partner nations’ responses to IUU fishing.

The challenge will proceed in two phases: (1) a “Proposal Round,” to identify up to ten finalists from eligible participant entities (see “Eligibility” below); and (2) a “Pitch Round,” to identify the top three winners.

In the Proposal Round, participants will submit fishing effort forecasts and written summaries of proposed capabilities via a concept of operations (CONOPS), from which a panel of subject matter experts will select up to ten finalists to advance to the Pitch Round. During the Pitch Round, participants will submit an additional set of fishing effort forecasts; they will demonstrate their solutions and present their proposed CONOPS to the judging panel at a pitch event in spring of 2024.

A total of $1 million in prize money will be awarded during the challenge. Up to ten finalists selected from the Proposal Round will be awarded $25,000 and invited to participate in the Pitch Round. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of the Pitch Round will be awarded an additional $500,000, $200,000 and $50,000, respectively. All finalists, regardless of ranking, may be eligible for follow-on contracts with NGA.

Key Dates

The proposed schedule is subject to change. Please refer to the NSIN Ideascale challenge page for current dates.

Week of Jan. 8, 2024: Solicitation Released:,, NSIN Ideascale challenge page,,

Jan. 29, 2024: “Ask Me Anything” session

Feb. 16, 2024: Deadline to submit the first forecast attempt

March 1, 2024: Proposal Round closes, deadline to submit CONOPS and forecasts

April 1, 2024: Finalists (up to 10) are announced and Pitch Round begins

May 20, 2024: Pitch event: participants present their solutions

May 24, 2024: Pitch Round closes: deadline to submit final CONOPS and forecasts

Early summer 2024: Winners (3) are announced

Benefits of Participating

  • A total of $1 million in prize money to be distributed among the top-performing participants.
  • Exposure to multiple branches of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for developing technologies that forecast illegal fishing.
  • Opportunities to learn from and collaborate with other industry leaders and academic partners in this space.
  • Potential for follow-on activities, such as Other Transaction Agreements/Authorities (OTAs), Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), and others.


  • U.S.-owned and operated companies (including those with non-U.S. citizens).
  • Students at an accredited institution of higher education (U.S. citizenship required).
  • U.S.-based private, academic, and other eligible organizations/individuals (Note: any higher-education institution that hosts a Confucius Institute is ineligible for participation in the challenge).
  • Mid- to early-stage ventures OR nontraditional defense contractors with the ability to demonstrate their solutions’ capabilities by March 2024.
  • Applicants may submit as individuals, individual teams, or partnered teams.
  • Participants must have an active registration in

Apply Now

Participants must apply for the NSIN/ NGA Global Fishing Forecast Grand Challenge online via the link below.

Apply Now

Participants are welcome to submit an optional weekly and daily forecast before but by 11:59 Eastern Time 9 February to practice forecasting the week of 11 February. The results of the practice forecast will not count in the official scores of the challenge.

Prior to submitting forecasts, participants must retrieve a unique 5-letter team code. This will be necessary to comply with the file naming requirements outlined in Appendix A of this announcement.

Forecast data submissions that do not comply with the schedule and data specifications listed in Appendix A will receive zero points.

To request a team code, each team must complete and submit one challenge Registration Form. The form will generate a unique 5-letter code, which will be emailed to the challenge registrant and the scoring team.

ONLY ONE code is required per team. If multiple team members have registered, please select one code for all submissions throughout the duration of the challenge.

Submit all forecast files to Box using the following link: GF2 Grand Challenge Box Submissions

  1. Click Select Files
  2. Select the .tif file(s) you'd like to upload (note zip files will be rejected)
  3. You can select multiple files for upload by holding the Command or Control key (Mac or Windows, respectively) while selecting files
  4. Click Open or Upload
  5. All selected files should appear in the outlined submission box
  6. Click Submit to upload files

If you are experiencing issues uploading to Box, please troubleshoot at Box Support or email and detailing the problem.

CONOPS will be submitted separately via the IdeaScale platform.

Prizes and Incentives

Prizes will be offered under 10 USC § 4025 (prize competitions). The total prize pool is $1 million, with up to ten finalists selected in the Proposal Round receiving $25,000 each, and the top three winners of the Pitch Round receiving an additional $500,000, $200,000 and $50,000 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively.

Problem Statement

The objective of the NSIN/NGA Global Fishing Forecast Grand Challenge is to elucidate IUU fishing activities by transitioning the analytic paradigm from detection to anticipation, via the development of novel and effective forecasting capabilities.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines IUU fishing as fishing that violates both national and international fishing regulations. Fishing is illegal if it is conducted in contravention of applicable laws and regulations, including those laws and rules adopted at the regional and international level. Examples of illegal fishing are fishing without a license, fishing in closed areas, and using prohibited fishing gear.

A key aspect of the challenge is to automate daily and weekly fishing forecasts at up to 1-square-kilometer resolution, and to summarize and characterize the forecasts within relevant fisheries management zones. A key criterion that participants should consider in their solutions is novelty of data sources and methods. Examples of such innovation might include integration of environmental and social factors; new ways to effectively forecast and characterize fishing effort; and presentation of contextual information to distinguish IUU fishing from legitimate fishing. The judges will also consider the scalability and replicability of identified solutions for NGA, DoD, and IC missions.

Materials Provided

NGA will not provide any data for this challenge. The participants will need to obtain and use their own resources to compete in the challenge.

NGA does provide necessary specifications for the forecast data and CONOPs submissions in the Technical Details and Judging Criteria.

Additional Information

Technical Details and Judging Criteria

Appendix A: Forecast Submission Guidelines

Appendix B: CONOPS Submission Guidelines

2024 - NSIN & NGA Global Fishing Forecast Grand Challenge - GFW Recommendations

Hear additional comments from NGA program manager Michael Brady, Ph.D., in the following media clips of the Challenge: Federal News Network KMOX radio, St. Louis Ask Me Anything (AMA) Session opening remarks: NSIN and NGA Present Global Fishing Forecast Grand Challenge Ask Me Anything - YouTube

About National Security Innovation Network

NSIN is a program office in the U.S. Department of Defense, nested within the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). We are set up to collaborate with a wide variety of innovators to include universities, researchers, students, entrepreneurs and start-ups. We create opportunities for collaboration across communities and connect those that might not traditionally work in national security. Together, we help drive national security innovation and develop technologies that directly support the individuals responsible for protecting our country.

For more information or interview requests with Team NSIN, please contact us at