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  • What is the NASA Science Mission Directorate Entrepreneurs Challenge?
    The Entrepreneurs Challenge seeks to invite fresh ideas and new participants in supporting development of instruments and technologies with the potential to advance the agency's science mission goals. In Round One, of the challenge, participants will submit a brief white paper outlining their concepts for review by a panel of NASA experts. Up to 20 winners from Round One will receive an invitation to participate in Round Two, along with $10,000 in prize funding. Round Two participants will submit a more detailed white paper and will also participate in a two-day virtual live event on November 3-4, 2021 to present their ideas to the panel of judges for review. Up to 10 Round Two winners will receive an additional $80,000 in prize funding from NASA.
  • 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 the Entrepreneurs Challenge team via this form here. Please be sure to include a link to your company's website, a brief description of the technology you are working on, and any other information that may enable us to assist you.
  • Do participants need to be US citizens?
    To be selected for any prize, participants must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent U.S. resident (green card holder).
  • Who is eligible to win a NASA prize award?
    1. Individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States and be 18 years of age or older. 2. Organizations must be an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States. 3. Teams must be comprised of otherwise eligible individuals or organizations and led by an otherwise eligible individual or organization. 4. Team leader must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. A Team may include foreign nationals and be eligible to win prize money as long as the foreign national signs and delivers a disclosure (separate form) wherein he/she discloses his/her citizenship and acknowledge that he/she is not eligible to win a prize from NASA, AND 1. The foreign national is an employee of an otherwise eligible U.S. entity participating in the Challenge, 2. The foreign national is an owner of such entity, so long as foreign citizens own less than 50% of the interests in the entity, 3. The foreign national is a contractor under written contract to such entity, OR 4. The foreign national is a full time student, during the time of the Challenge, of an otherwise eligible entity which is an accredited institution of higher learning, AND the student is during the Challenge in the United States on a valid student visa and is otherwise in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations regarding the sale and export of technology.
  • Do proposed technology concepts need to have reached a certain technology readiness level (TRL)?
    Participants may propose technology concepts at any TRL as long as they meet the evaluation criteria of the challenge.
  • Is the Entrepreneurs Challenge open to international based applicants?
    Unfortunately, the Entrepreneurs Challenge is only open to applicants based in the United States.
  • The description of Round Two in the challenge overview mentions winners “may choose to submit a proposal to one of SMD’s 15 established technology programs." Is there a link to access information about 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 Instrument Incubator A.44 Advanced Component Technology A.45 In-Space Validation of Earth Science Technologies A.46 Sustainable Land Imaging - Technology A.47 Decadal Survey Incubation A.48 Advanced Information Systems Technology B.9 Heliophysics Low Cost Access to Space B.10 Heliophysics Flight Opportunities Studies B.11 Heliophysics Flight Opportunities for Research and Technology C.12 Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations C.13 Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration C.14 Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research C.20 Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation Program C.22 Radioisotope Power Systems Enabling Missions Beginning with Research and Technology D.3 Astrophysics Research and Analysis D.7 Strategic Astrophysics Technology D.8 Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowships for Early Career Researchers
  • Are there strict limits to the 5 page maximum on the white paper proposal?
    Yes, reviewers will not read material that exceeds the 5-page limit.
  • Are there any rules regarding IP assignment?
    NASA does not claim any intellectual property (IP) rights from the participant’s submissions. All trade secrets, copyrights, patent rights, and software rights will remain with each respective participant. Do not include any proprietary information in your white paper.
  • Can applicants submit more than one proposal?
    Yes; participants should submit a separate Round One white paper for each concept proposed.
  • Is participation in this challenge prohibited if a company is concurrently submitting proposals to SBIR or JAIC?
    Applicants are encouraged to apply to this challenge and SMD will determine the best course of action.
  • Can applicants still apply if they've received a prior SBIR award?
    Yes, applicants who have received previous SBIR awards can apply.
  • Is participation in the challenge restricted to startup companies?
    Although the intent of the Entrepreneurs Challenge is to involve early-stage ventures, any company may participate.
  • Where can NASA science questions and priorities be found?
    NASA science priorities and questions can be found in the National Academies’ Decadal Surveys. Decadal surveys supporting the Earth Science, Planetary Science, Heliophysics, and Astrophysics Divisions are located here. The Biological and Physical Science Decadal Survey is located here.
  • How does NASA define a SmallSat?
    NASA defines a SmallSat as a spacecraft that is interface compatible with an ESPA Ring, a dedicated small or medium-lift launch vehicle, or a containerized dispenser, and with an upper mass limit of approximately 500 kg.
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