While NASA is obviously leading one of the most important efforts to our species, they are facing serious underfunding issues. And with all the perfect technology they need to develop, it’s only a matter of time until space missions start being cancelled because of lack of funds. So, something must of course be done about it.
In order to kill two birds with one stone, NASA decided to create the Startup NASA program, which would both allow the company to maintain a decent amount of funding and it would allow small, start-up companies helping the agency with their technology to also keep a cash flow.
So, developing a way to both keep their intellectual property and to help these minor start-up companies get a cash flow, NASA has helped create over a dozen new high-tech companies. The sole purpose of these new firms is to commercialize NASA tech, and they can do without paying anything to the agency for the first three years.
Similar to the Startup NASA program, the Space Race would also allow the participants to receive seed funding from venture capitalists.
Coming as a partnership of the agency with the non-profit organization Center for Advanced Innovation (CAI), the competition will allow teams of applicants to choose one of ten NASA technologies to market. Entrance in the competition will be allowed until March 27, and the teams have to come up with a plan to commercialize the technology.
The competition will be composed of several stages, with the teams first having to develop an elevator pitch, and those moving forward then having to deliver a full business plan, with a comprehensive financial model included. The winners will then incorporate their businesses, license the NASA tech, and start production.
According to Daniel Lockney, the program’s executive,
In the past four years, we’ve managed a 250 percent increase in annual patent licensing and have doubled the rate at which we release software to the public. Startup NASA and the Space Race challenge promise to continue that trend of making NASA’s achievements in research and technology more accessible to people on the ground.
He goes on to say how these technologies are a very important return to United States taxpayers in the form of new products and new jobs. And the products are definitely commercializable, as they went through rigorous NASA testing, and are designed to survive in the extreme conditions in outer space.
Image source: Flickr