What is the NASA Science Mission Directorate Entrepreneurs Challenge?

The NASA Science Mission Directorate Entrepreneurs Challenge is a new program that provides entrepreneurs with an "on ramp" to SMD technology awards. It includes a one-day virtual event hosted by NASA, in partnership with Starburst, on July 29th, 2020. At this event, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch live to a panel of NASA experts seeking new technologies for the advancement of their ongoing and future missions. Successful participants will receive non-dilutive funding from NASA and have the opportunity to receive more funding from Venture Capitalists who will be in attendance as well.

Who can l contact for further questions regarding application submissions and/or general questions?

For all questions regarding application requirements or just general inquires please reach out to Asher Kraut via email. Please be sure to include a link to your company's website, a brief description of the technology you are working on, and anything else you think we may need to know so that we can better assist you.

Is the Entrepreneurs Challenge open to international based applicants?

Unfortunately, the Entrepreneurs Challenge is only open to applicants based in the United States.

Is the technology focus area pertaining to earth observation and disaster management systems primarily focused on satellite-based systems or is aerial imagery, collection and processing of interest as well?

The Science Mission directorate has an aircraft program in earth science as well, so all of these are areas of interest.

As it relates to applications specifically in the mass spectrometry topic, are there certain applications that are of interest?

There are no limitations on the types of technology for the mass spectrometer. Certainly, if you're going to use AI to, say, create technology to mind mass spectrometry data that's also very much acceptable.

In terms of technology readiness level, is there a certain TRL that is preferred?

It can be all across the spectrum, no preference.

The rules state that in round 2 the judging panel will select up to 10 finalists who receive the best scores to receive prize awards of $20,000 each based on the same scoring methodology in round 1. The rules go on to say that in round 2, prize winners will submit a white paper that describes their concept in more detail to be eligible for an additional $80k in prize funding. The judging criteria for round 1 will be repeated and the winners will be the top 10 selected for those proposals receiving at least 40 points from the scoring process. So, if only 10 teams make it to round 2, does that mean they're automatically in the top 10 for round 3?

This means they are all eligible for the $80,000 and in theory could all receive the $80,000. If after the judging is completed on their second writeup and they get 40 points, they'll get the additional $80,000.

Are there strict limits to the 5 page maximum on the white paper proposal?

Yes, reviewers will not be reading page 6.

Are there any rules regarding IP assignment?

The participants keep all of the IP, as set forth by the compete ACT which NASA is using to execute this challenge.

Can applicants submit more than 1 proposal?


In some cases were bidding on various NASA SBIR and JAIC related opportunities, are there rules which prohibit the submissions of this challenge if concurrently submitted to SBIR or JAIC?

The Science Missions Directorate is constant communication with all of those channels so applicants are encouraged to send the proposal in and the SMD will determine the best course of action. It's not going to be a risk of double funding or anything like that.

Can applicants still apply if they've received a prior SBIR Phase I award?


Are there restrictions on the stage of the company?

There is no penalty in the scoring if applicants are not early-stage companies, although the program is intended for early-stage ventures.

In the description of round 2 in the challenge overview it's mentioned, “or they may choose to submit a proposal to one of SMD’s 15 established technology programs". Is there a link to access these technology programs?

Here is a link to all of the elements of our Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES).The specific technology solicitations are A.43, A.44, A.45, A.46, A.47, A.48, B.9, B.10, B.11, C.12, C.13, C.14, C.20, C.22, D.3, D.7, D.8

Are there links available for samples of the types of data, and is it the earth observation data that you're looking at?

Earth Science data is available to the public here and the Kepler data can be found here.

Will there be more Entrepreneurs Challenges?

Yes - that is our plan! We'll be announcing more information regarding future challenges in early 2021, but in the meantime, please register your contact details here to learn more as soon as we announce.