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NASA’s Entrepreneurs Challenge to Advance Science-focused Technologies

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is launching the 2023 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is launching the 2023 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge. A follow-up to the previous NASA Entrepreneur Challenges in 2020 and 2021, this year’s Challenge focuses on two critical areas of need: lunar payloads and climate science.

The Challenge will recognize winning entrepreneurs with up to $1 million in total prizes, provide winners with exposure to external funders and investors, and offers insight into how entrepreneurs can work with NASA in the future. NASA is particularly interested in reaching entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities.

“Advancing our science goals – from understanding the mysteries of the universe, to supporting astronaut research on the Moon, to observing our dynamic planet Earth – requires cutting edge technology,” said Nicky Fox, the associate administrator for NASA science. “We seek and support innovation from around the nation to ensure that we have access to the best possible levels of creativity.”

In Round 1 of the Challenge, participants will submit a pitch deck alongside a technical white paper outlining the technology concept. Up to 20 organizations will receive $16,000 and advance to Round 2, where they will submit more detailed information and present at an in-person pitch event hosted at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit and Expo in Washington. Up to eight organizations will be awarded an additional grand prize of $85,000.

The pitch event will allow finalists to network with top agency, military, and industry leaders with exposure to venture capitalists and other impact funds. Winners from prior years have secured millions of dollars in investor funds, gained acceptance into accelerator programs, and won Small Business Innovation Research contracts following their participation in the challenge.
“Reaching for new heights and revealing the unknown for the benefit of humanity doesn’t just require groundbreaking technologies; it requires visionary people,” said Carolyn Mercer, the chief technologist for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “There are countless tenacious and innovative entrepreneurs working across the country on cutting-edge research and game-changing ideas of importance to NASA.”

The Challenge: NASA’s Science Mission Directorate invites startups and entrepreneurs to participate in the NASA Entrepreneur Challenge to further the development and commercialization of technologies and data usage through an entrepreneurial lens to advance the Agency’s science goals for humanity.

The Prize: NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will award up to $1 million in prizes to participants who can successfully contribute ideas that advance innovations related to lunar payloads or climate science. In addition, finalists will participate in an in-person pitch event where they will have the opportunity to present to and network with venture capitalists, impact investors, NASA scientists, and industry leaders.

Eligibility to Submit and Win Award: The prize is open to US persons aged 18 or older participating as individuals or as a team. Please see the challenge rules for complete eligibility requirements.

HeroX is administering the challenge. The NASA Tournament Lab, part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate, is managing the challenge. The NASA Tournament Lab facilitates the use of crowdsourcing to tackle NASA challenges, engaging the global community to seek new ideas and approaches to benefit NASA.

Learn more about opportunities to participate in your space program through NASA prizes and challenges: