Qualifications

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Award Requirements

To qualify for any awards from the Inventions and Contributions Board (ICB), the subject invention must have been officially reported and assigned a tracking number from the sponsoring NASA Center to indicate that the Agency has an intellectual property interest in the invention. This is done through NASA's Electronic New Technology Reporting System (eNTRe).

The Award Liaison Officer (ALO) at the nominating NASA Center must also obtain information from the inventors to verify that an aerospace origin, tie, use or potential use exists for each technology. The home address and Social Security or Tax ID number for each inventor is also required. This information is entered into the NASA Technology Tracking System (NTTS).

Initial Awards


Three Initial Awards are awarded once only, upon the documentation of specific events. These awards must be requested through the sponsoring Center's ALO, and no application is required. A detailed description of these awards can be found on the ICB Awards Matrix. The award types and associated qualifying events are:

  • Tech Brief Awards (Certificate Only) — Upon documentation of approval of an article for publication in NASA's Tech Briefs magazine by the sponsoring Center, the Center ALO notes the approval date in NTTS and prints certificates in NTTS for each inventor.
  • Software Release Awards ($1000 for a single inventor, or $500 for up to 10 inventors) — Upon documentation in NTTS of the initial non-developmental use of software, the ALO prints certificates in NTTS for each inventor.
  • Patent Application Awards ($1000 for a single inventor, or $500 for up to 10 inventors) — Upon documentation of the serial number for a Non-Provisional Patent Application, or the issuance of a Divisional or Continuation In Part patent, the ALO requests awards for each inventor. Provisional Patents, Continuation Patents, and Foreign Patents are not eligible for these awards.

Board Action Awards


These awards are more value driven than the event-driven Initial Awards and have no set amount. Applicants complete NF-1329, which is designed to convey the value of the award to the ICB. The ICB relies on the information in this form to determine the award amount, if any, that the technology deserves. Technologies may be submitted for Board Action awards at any time and may be re-evaluated by the submission of a new form NF-1329 which highlights the changes since the last evaluation and the amount of the previous Board Award.


Yearly Competitions

  • NASA Software of the Year Competition

    Excellence in aerospace software is vital to NASA's leadership role in developing aeronautics and space technologies and transferring them to government and industry. The prestigious Software of the Year Award is designed to give recognition to developers of exceptional software created for or by NASA and owned by NASA. The competition is sponsored by the NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance and the NASA Chief Information Officer. A NASA Software Advisory Panel assesses and ranks entries and reports its findings to NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board.

    Every NASA Center and Facility is invited to participate in this annual competition. The award includes the NASA Software Medal, Inventions and Contributions Board certificate(s), and monetary compensation. The competition allows the Agency to recognize and appreciate the NASA team members who set high standards for innovative software technologies that significantly improve the Agency's exploration of space and maximize scientific discovery on Earth and that are creative, usable, transferable, and possess inherent quality.
  • NASA Invention of the Year Competition

    The Invention of the Year program is an important part of the NASA patent program. There are two competitions: the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year and the NASA Government Invention of the Year. The eligibility requirements for the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year Award are tied closely to the National Inventor of the Year event promoted by the Intellectual Property Owners Educational Foundation (IPO Educational Foundation). The NASA Commercial Invention of the Year is nominated by NASA for the National Award; the National Inventor of the Year is usually announced by the IPO Educational Foundation and recognized at a reception on Capitol Hill.