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NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge 2023

Venture to the Moon and Beyond with NASA: Launching Lunar Payloads and Unlocking Climate Science!

This challenge is closed

stage:
Pitch Day and Winners Announcement
prize:
$1,000,000

This challenge is closed

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Summary
Timeline
Updates17
Forum30
Teams602
Press
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FAQ
Technology Focus Areas
Past Winners
Round 2
Summary

Overview

At NASA, there is no ambiguity in our mission: we reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. Doing so however, doesn’t just require groundbreaking technologies, it requires visionary people - people who are unwilling to quit despite the most difficult of circumstances. Naturally, this environment lends itself well to the collaboration between diverse startup entrepreneurs, NASA scientists, and the Space Tech community. 

The 2023 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge recognizes and supports entrepreneurs and visionaries working on technology that advances the agency’s science goals, particularly in lunar exploration and climate science.

To increase participation of entrepreneurs in its technology portfolio, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) will award up to $1,000,000 in total prizes to participants who can successfully contribute ideas that advance the state-of-the-art in two, broadly-defined areas for 2023: Lunar Payloads and Climate Science. 

Finalists will be invited to a live pitch event hosted at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo in Washington, D.C. Participants will further benefit from the opportunity to network with top agency, military, and industry leaders representing billions in federal contracting authority and innovation prizes.

NASA is committed to a culture of diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility. Aligning with NASA’s core value of inclusion and the Science Mission Directorate’s Science Plan (see Strategy 4.1 in SMD Science Plan), SMD seeks to increase the diversity of thought and backgrounds represented across the entire SMD portfolio through a more inclusive and accessible environment.  We strongly encourage applicants from historically excluded communities, especially women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities, to partake in this challenge and future NASA explorations.


Guidelines

In Round 1, applicants will submit a Pitch Deck of up to 8 Slides alongside a Technical Submission of up to 5-pages outlining a technology concept that addresses one of the Technology Focus Areas detailed below. A panel of judges composed of NASA personnel and external venture experts will then select up to twenty (20) companies to receive $16,000 each and an invitation to participate in Round 2 of the NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge.

In Round 2, participants will submit a Pitch Deck of up to 12 Slides with a more extensive 10- page Technical Submission further detailing their technological solutions and will also participate in a live pitch event at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo to present their ideas to a panel of judges. The panel of judges will score the Submission Materials alongside a live 5 minute pitch presentation. The judging panel will be composed of NASA personnel and venture experts. Industry representatives, venture capitalists, government funders, foundations, and NASA program managers will also be invited to the pitch event. Up to eight (8) winning participants will be awarded an additional $85,000 each in prize funding to further mature their concepts.

 

Technology Focus Areas

The 2023 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge aims to address two critical areas of need for NASA: Lunar Payloads and Climate Science. NASA will be seeking solutions provide:

  • Lunar payloads that may attract non-governmental funding for delivery to the surface of the Moon by a commercial provider.
  • A means to obtain high quality climate science data from small hosted instruments and/or new business models for using existing climate data to address climate and environmental problems.

Learn more about the focus areas here, including topic specific judging criteria.

 

Prizes

In Round 1, up to 20 organizations will receive $16,000 and advance to Round 2. 

In Round 2, up to 8 organizations will receive an additional $85,000.

In addition to the monetary awards, winners will also receive:

  • Assistance from NASA researchers on understanding and implementing NASA priorities 
  • Access to a live NASA session explaining relevant NASA Funding Opportunities for Round 2 participants
  • Promotion and recognition at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo in Washington, D.C.
    • Feedback from a live judging panel consisting of NASA researchers and venture experts
    • Networking opportunity with top agency, military, and industry leaders in addition to venture capitalists, philanthropists, and other private funders
  • Winners will be asked to participate in a follow up survey approximately one year after the announcement. Any follow-on successes may be promoted in future iterations of the Entrepreneurs Challenge.

Judging Criteria

Submissions will be scored out of 100 points by a panel of internal and external judges. NASA personnel will score the technical viability (60%) of the solution while external venture experts will evaluate the venture viability (40%) of the solution. Note that venture viability can address either for-profit or non-profit ventures.

  1. Technical Viability (60%)
    1. Relevance to Challenge Topic and Impact (30%)
    2. Innovation of Approach (10%)
    3. Technical Credibility of Approach (20%)
       
  2. Venture Viability (40%)
    1. Problem/Solution Fit (5%)
    2. Market Potential (10%)
    3. Business Model (10%)
    4. Team (10%)
    5. Traction (5%)

Submission Format

Be sure to address all Venture Viability Criteria in the Pitch Deck Submission provided for each Round and use the Technical Submission Template for each Round to address all the Technical Viability Criteria. Templates for each submission are available below. Please follow the template guidance as closely as possible and stay within the page limits. Judging Criteria are the same for Round 1 and 2 in regards to the Technical Submission, however Round 2 Slide Deck Criteria have several additional sub-questions. 

Additional guidance regarding the Pitch Event will be provided to Round 1 winners, including  slide deck requirements for their 5-minute pitch.

 

ROUND 1:

  1. Pitch Deck: please ensure you use the provided pitch deck template and carefully address all sections and questions contained within it.
    1. Maximum 8 slides, not including the Title Slide.
    2. Must use the section headers provided in the template and address the questions under each header.
    3. You may design and create the Slide Deck using any software or application, but the final submission must be a .PDF file.
       
  2. Technical Submission: please ensure you use the provided whitepaper template and carefully address all sections and questions contained within it.
    1. Maximum 5 pages
    2. Formatting requirements provided in the template
    3. Must use the section headers provided in the template and address the questions under each header
    4. Submitted as a PDF upload
       
  3. Eligibility Confirmation: In order to be eligible for an award, individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States and be 18 years of age or older, and organizations must be an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States.
    1. If you are selected as a potential Winner and you are an individual, you will be asked to provide proof of citizenship or permanent residency. 
    2. If you are selected as a potential Winner and you are an organization, you will be asked to provide proof of the location of your primary place of business. 
       
  4. Additional Information: This information will not be considered in the evaluation process:
    1. Have you received government funding for this project in the past? If so, please detail existing funding. Note that whether or not you have received funding will not influence the judging process.

       

ROUND 2

  1. Pitch Deck: please ensure you use the provided pitch deck template.
    1. Maximum 12 slides, not including the Title Slide.
    2. Must use the section headers provided in the template and address the questions under each header
    3. You may design and create the Slide Deck using any software or application, but the final submission must be a .PDF file. 
       
  2. Technical Submission: please ensure you use the provided whitepaper template 
    1. Same requirements as in Round 1, except with a 10 page maximum.
    2. Submitted as a PDF upload.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for an award, individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States and be 18 years of age or older, and organizations must be an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States. Please see the Challenge Terms and Conditions for complete rules and eligibility information.

NASA encourages submissions from both for-profit and non-profit ventures.

Timeline
Updates17

Challenge Updates

Announcing the NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge Round 2 Winners

Dec. 8, 2023, 4:34 p.m. PST by Kyla Jeffrey

NASA has selected the following awardees to receive $85,000 each as Round 2 winners of the 2023 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge! Read the full release from NASA here

  • Visual-Inertial Position & Navigation for Moon by Skyline Nav AI
  • Lunar Anti-Dust Microgrid Payload by Front Range
  • Deep Detection of Methane in Satellite Data by GeoLabe
  • Cislune Lunar Fuel Refinery and Exporter by Cislune
  • Ringside Seats: Mote Lunar Landing Support System by Space Initiatives
  • Robotic Utility Transmission Infrastructure by BlinkSpace
  • PRISM: Personal RealTime Insight from Spatial Maps by Pegasus Intelligence and Space

The Round 1 winners presented their concepts at an in-person pitch event hosted at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo in Washington D.C.. The event provided them with a platform to showcase their innovations to prominent figures from NASA, the military, and industry. It also included networking opportunities with venture capitalists and impact investors that we hope will open doors to potential partnerships that could redefine the future of space and science.

Congratulations once again to our awardees!


Announcing the NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge Round 1 Winners

Aug. 10, 2023, noon PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

NASA has selected the following awardees to receive $16,000 each and advance to Phase 2 of the NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge. The winners are:

  • Automated Monitoring of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Claudia Hulbert
  • Cislune Lunar Fuel Refinery and Exporter by Cislune
  • Deployable Vapor Transport Pipe Demonstrator by Blnk Space
  • iCOSMOS-Swarm for Climate Science Data Generation by Interstel Technologies
  • Lunar Anti-Dust Microgrid Payload by Front Range Team
  • Lunar Home Maker by Moon Matter Makers
  • One Giant Leap for Life:Moon Demonstration Garden by "Daniel Tompkins and Gonçalo Esteves
  • PRISM: Personal RealTime Insight from Spatial Maps by Pegasus Intelligence and Space
  • Ringside Seats: Mote System Lunar Landing Support by Space Initiatives Inc
  • Spaceducks Open-Source Climate Sensor Platform by SpaceDucks
  • Visual Position and Navigation for Space Missions by Skyline Nav AI

Round 1 winners will now prepare to present their concepts at an in-person pitch event hosted at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo in Washington. This event will provide them with a platform to showcase their innovations to prominent figures from NASA, the military, and industry. The networking opportunities with venture capitalists and impact investors will open doors to potential partnerships that could redefine the future of space and science.

Congratulations once again to our awardees!


Thank You for your Submissions

June 28, 2023, 2:05 p.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

Just like that, it’s over! Thank you to all of you who sent in submissions. We can’t wait to finally see what you’ve been working so hard on. 

Crowdsourcing would be nothing without the crowd — that’s you! Thank you for being an indispensable part of this process, and using your brainpower for the greater good.

Congratulations on completing your submission. This is not an easy process, and you deserve a pat on the back for your hard work and dedication. Thank you!

     


Eight Hours Left

June 28, 2023, 6 a.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

You now have less than a day left to submit your NASA Entrepreneur Challenge challenge. Now’s the time to make final changes and send it off!

Please remember that the deadline is June 28, 2023, 5 p.m.  Eastern Time. We don’t accept any late submissions, so do your best to get it in ahead of time.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with! Best of luck.


Two Day Warning

June 26, 2023, 4:57 p.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

The time has almost come! You now have two days left to finish your NASA Entrepreneur Challenge submission. The final project is due on June 28, 2023, 5 p.m.  Eastern Time.

We don’t accept any late submissions, so now is the time to make sure that everything is good to go. Double check file formats and make sure that all of your project components are easily accessible.

We are more than happy to answer your last-minute questions about the submission process. Post a question in the forum or leave a comment on this post, and we will be in touch with you.

We can’t wait to see the final projects. Good luck!


Forum30
Teams602
Press
Resources
FAQ
Technology Focus Areas
Past Winners
Round 2