The initiative was unveiled at Sundance on Monday morning (23) and will award $200,000 in cash to the top five entries with $100,000 reserved for the grand prize winner.

The Filmmaker Challenge is an extension of the Focus Forward – Short Films, Big Ideas series of 30 three-minute docs which launched in Toronto last year.

Entries for the Filmmaker Challenge must be three minutes long “end-to-end stories about people or organisations whose innovative efforts in medicine, computer science, robotics, engineering, green energy, or other fields of applied technical knowledge have had a significant positive impact on humanity.”

Filmmaker Challenge films will be distributed through video sharing site Vimeo and will play alongside the first 30 titles produced by Focus Forward. As the competition progresses, entries will gain distribution on VoD and other digital platforms.

Submissions open in mid April and the winners will be announced at Sundance 2013.

The first five films from Focus Forward get their world premieres on Vimeo on Tuesday. They are: Jessica Yu’s Meet Mr Toilet; Phil Cox’s Hilary’s Straws; Jessica Edwards and Gary Hustwit’s The Landfill; Jeremiah Zagar’s Heart Stop Beating; and David W Leitner’s Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art Of Human Waste.