Josh Byerly
Johnson Space Center, Houston

RELEASE : J09-005
NASA to Award $80,000 in Rice University Business Plan Competition
HOUSTON – The Innovation Partnerships Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has announced the addition of three separate $20,000 awards to one already granted, bringing the total to $80,000, to be presented as part of the 2009 Rice University Business Plan Competition.

The three new prizes will be awarded for the best business plans representing an engineering technology that has applications to both the NASA space program and to earth-based activities, according to Michele Brekke, director of the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office (IPO).

The 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition will take place April 16-18. This is the second year for the IPO and the Space Life Sciences Directorate at JSC to be part of the Rice Business Competition, and the first year for JSC’s Engineering Directorate to offer prize money. In 2008, JSC launched its support of the Rice competition with a $20,000 prize funded by the IPO and the Space Life Sciences Directorate.

“Being part of the Rice Alliance gives us the opportunity to encourage innovation with industry and academia,” said Steve Altemus, director of the Engineering Directorate.

“We are excited about sponsoring three prizes this year. I’m confident that through venues like this, JSC Engineering can cultivate and grow exciting new partnerships and benefit from the diversity of this group in the way we bring engineering solutions to human spaceflight,” added Altemus.

In 2008, the NASA Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award went to HeartSounds from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a technology that has the potential to provide wireless diagnostic medical data for the medical care of a crew member during spaceflight, according to Dr. Jeffrey R. Davis, director of the Space Life Sciences Directorate.

“Our goal is to identify a promising technology that may have an application to improving human health and performance during spaceflight. By participating in this competition, we hope to identify new technologies at an early phase of development that we later fly on the International Space Station or forecast for use during the Constellation program. We can evaluate emerging technologies designed for terrestrial applications that could have applications to human spaceflight. We especially see possibilities with commercial home health development,” said Davis.

The Rice Business Plan Competition is a three-day event intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms.

The Competition, hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, will award $700,000 in prizes. The grand prize package is worth more than $350,000. Other special prizes will be awarded in Sustainability, Aerospace, Life Science, Energy, IT and Medical Devices.

For more information the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office, visit:

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