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Mr. Harold M. Bell, Division Director, Advanced Analysis and Planning Division

Welcome to the Inventions and Contributions Board (ICB), the portal to imagination, transferring today's ideas into tomorrow's technologies. Oliver Wendell Holmes believed that "a man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." It is with this spirit that Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, forming NASA and initiating the flow of its new technologies to the public.

Since its creation on December 4, 1958, as a NASA innovation source the ICB has distributed millions of dollars for thousands of technologies that have enhanced the nation's space program and the individual citizen's quality of life. The ICB has issued over 100,000 awards to applicants from NASA and other U.S. government agencies, as well as from industry and academia. For a historical overview of the ICB, see NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board: A Historical Perspective.

The Space Act limits the amount of an award for any single contribution to no more than $100,000 without notification of Congress. ICB operations are governed by three sections of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations: 14CFR1209 (Sub-part 4), 14CFR1240, and 14CFR1245.

The ICB is chaired by the NASA Chief Engineer and is composed of representatives from across the Agency, who reflect NASA's finest technical talent and whose expertise covers more than 40 fields of science and technology. The Board is assisted by four staff members, based at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, who carry out the administrative activities of the awards process.

The ICB also acts as the approval body for waiver of NASA' s title rights to large contractor inventions. Changes in the law in 1984 automatically grant title waivers for small businesses, certain not-for-profit organizations, and universities. In contrast, NASA is vested with all rights to inventions by large contractors, unless the large contractor petitions NASA to waive its title rights to inventions arising from joint work with NASA. For more information on the Title Waiver process and associated forms, visit the Title Waiver page.

All awards are submitted through the Awards Liaison Officers for the NASA Center that sponsors the candidate technology. The Board approves awards for Tech Brief Articles, Software Releases, and Patent Applications. The Board Award is the mechanism for awarding competitors in two Yearly Competitions: Software of the Year and Invention of the Year.

The NASA Software of the Year Competition is sponsored by the Chief Engineer and the Chief Information Officer. The NASA Invention of the Year Competition is sponsored by the Chief Engineer and the Office of the General Counsel and seeks to highlight the top innovations of NASA each year. Awards may be made in two categories: Government Invention of the Year and Commercial Invention of the Year. The winning team(s) are presented awards at the annual NASA Project Management Challenge the following year.

I hope you will also take time to explore the contributions of the past, as documented in the ICB Annual Reports, to understand the "how, who, and what" of participation in the ICB process.


  • Mr. Harold M. Bell, Division Director, Advanced Analysis and Planning Division
  • Questions regarding the NASA Space Act Awards Program: Contact Mr. Jesse Midgett, ICB Technologist.
  • Questions regarding ICB records: Contact Ms. Iona Butler, ICB Records Manager.
  • Questions regarding the process for an application for patent waiver, and for advance patent waivers:
    Contact: Laura L. Eure, ICB Staff Specialist.