Challenge overview

Phase 0: Enter the Challenge

Submission Requirements

Letter of Intent (LOI) Overview: 

  • Teams MUST choose an invention from the inventions list.  NOTE: a maximum of 10 teams per NASA invention will be accepted.  A counter on the Inventions page will indicate the number of teams in each invention category
  • Challenge Teams provide information regarding the members of their Team, indicate how Challenge Team members meet eligibility requirements and outline details regarding how they intend to participate in the Challenge
  • Teams must explicitly state that they have the intent of creating a startup  
  • Challenge Teams will provide a Stakeholder Engagement Analysis AND Collaborators list (optional).  Steps to complete this are shown below
  • Please DO NOT contact inventors directly.  All contact to inventors should be made through the CAI team

What Constitutes a Complete Submission:

  • Online Submission: The Challenge uses an online system.  All Challenge materials and attachments must be submitted electronically
  • Choose an Invention: The model of this Challenge encompasses high-value NASA inventions.  Teams may choose an invention from the inventions list
  • Eligibility: Ensure that your team meets all requirements listed in the Team Rules and Eligibility
  1. LOI Submission FormThe LOI form require the following information: the invention selected, Challenge Team members and their capabilities, and an agreement to comply with confidentiality terms.  Challenge Team leaders need to populate an LOI for the whole team
  2. CDA Form: All Challenge Team members (team leaders, core team members, mentors and advisors) need to populate a CDA form.  To return to an existing CDA you've started and saved, simply use the edit link provided to you
  3. Resumes and Optional Documents:  Challenge Team member resumes (Resumes are limited to two (2) pages per team member. Please include a header on the top of each resume indicating what their role is on the team (e.g. Core Team Member, Mentor, Advisor, etc.)) 
  • NOTE ON FORMS: Upon completing each form, you will be emailed an edit link.  Please use this edit link to return to your form.  Contact if you cannot access your form or did not receive this custom link

Important Notes on Submissions:

  • File Naming Convention: In order for reviewers to easily identify attachments, please use the following naming convention for files to be uploaded to this attachment.  'University' and 'Initials' must be the university and initials of the Team Leader:  'university' - 'initials' deliverable type.format (e.g. UCLA - GWB Resume.pdf)
  • If there are multiple groups within the same university and initials, the CAI team will inform your team to pick alternative initials
  • Only one file should be uploaded for each attachment category (Resumes, Stakeholder Engagement Form, Collaborator Form).  For example, if you are uploading resumes for each member of your Challenge team, please combine all resumes into one file and upload that one file to the resume category
  • Each attachment should try to be no more than 2MB in file size
  • Image files and executable files will not be accepted (e.g. jpg, .gif, .bmp, .tif, .exe)

Steps for Challenge Teams to Enter
  1. Read all information on this overview page, as well as the guidance, eligibility, and rules pages before preparing your LOI
  2. Select an invention around which you'd like to form a Challenge Team; you can find the NASA inventions here
  3. Please note the "counter" on the Inventions Tab.  If the ticker has reached 10 accepted submissions, no additional submissions will be accepted for this NASA invention
  4. Create your team. Your team will need two (2) members minimum.  We realize that some teams will be formed across Universities and disparate geographic regions.  If you are looking for additional members to augment your team or are looking for a team to join please go to the Find a Team / Member page
  5. Find a seasoned entrepreneur to be on your team. There are several ways you can find an entrepreneur.  You can reach out internally to your university, or email one of the Challenge hosts for some assistance
  6. Eligibility: Ensure that your team meets all requirements listed in the Team Rules and Eligibility
  7. Fill out your LOI form.  Team leaders need to populate an LOI for the whole team
  8. Fill out the CDA form: ALL Team members (team leader, core team members, mentors, and advisors) need to populate a CDA form
  9. Pull together all your team member resumes to be submitted in one file. Resumes are limited to two (2) pages per team member. Please include a header on the top of each resume indicating what their role is on the team (e.g. core team member, mentor, advisor, etc.)
  10. Submit all your deliverables by May 1st, 2016


  1. Please consider populating the optional stakeholder engagement form
  2. Please also consider creating a document that contains all your collaborators (put all the collaborators information in one document with headers to separate different collaborators)
  3. Upload these forms with your resumes

phase 1: Elevator speech

Submission Requirements


Elevator Speech Phase Overview: For Phase 1 of the The Space Race, teams will begin to develop their overall business concepts for their chosen technology.  All teams will record a 2 minute elevator speech outlining their technology and potential start-up.  Additionally teams are to submit a 350 word executive summary.  This should act as a strong opening statement about your business and technology.  You can find a template for the executive summary below


Submission Requirements:

  • 2 minute elevator speech
  • 350 word executive summary

How to Submit: All teams will be submitting their deliverables via the Canvas platform - details to be given at a later date


Additional Milestones


Stakeholder Engagement: Throughout Phase 1 of the competition we suggest that your team engages with at least 20 stakeholders within your industry to speak with and obtain feedback on your invention, value proposition, and any other part of your future business plan.  Below we have some suggestions to help you communicate effectively with your stakeholders

  • Develop a business model canvas (look up excel examples on google -
  • Keep track of your ongoing discussions, daily work, and thoughts via Google Documents
  • Communicate with the challenge team to discuss your team's needs, questions, and comments in developing your business plan

R&D Roadmap: Teams have the opportunity to submit an R&D roadmap to their respective inventor for analysis and feedback

  • Half a page in Word
  • Include R&D plan and Commercialization plan
  • Near term and Far term

Elevator Speech Phase Steps for Challenge Teams


Promptly after the due date for the deliverables, all videos will be places online for public viewing.  Here, members of the community will be able to watch and vote on their favorite videos.  Also, we are looking to have participants crowd-source ideas on how they might improve/update their submissions.  Simultaneously the challenge judges will be evaluating both the elevator speeches and executive summaries and scoring them accordingly.  The entire judging process will span from June 6th to June 12th, 2016.  On June 15th 2016 the scores will be finalized and the semi-finalists will be announced.

  1. Continue to add expertise to your team: begin your stakeholder engagement as well as scout additional team members that would be beneficial for your team
  2. Log on to the Canvas Platform and familiarize yourself with the system
  3. Submit video and executive summary on the Canvas Platform by June 5th, 2016; this will make the video available for public viewing 
  4. Public voting and crowd sourcing will commence from June 6th to June 12th, 2016 on the Canvas voting platform
    • Please make your friends, family, peers, and other stakeholders aware that your video and executive summary is up on the site so they can provide input/comment and "like" your video/executive summary.
    • Please review our training on how you might market your video/executive summary to relevant stakeholders/peers

phase 2: business plan

Phase 2 Overview and Submission Requirements
Business Plan Phase Overview: Challenge semi-finalists from Phase 1 will develop a 10-page business plan; and a twenty minute "live" pitch via video conference (


Submission Requirements (estimated 20 pages PPT and Word, not including appendices):

  • 10 page business plan with dilutive/non-dilutive funders or potential licensees
    • ~11pt font size limit (depending on font style), title and table of contents should not be numbered, appendix should not be counted in the 10 pages
  • A financial model (P&L, Balance Sheet, Valuation Table) in excel format only
  • 10 page pitch deck (maximum length is 10 pages PowerPoint or Prezi)
  • 20 minute (5 minute presentation, 5 minute Q&A, 10 minute preparation time) live pitch via Join.Me, to the Challenge judges and to potential funders
  • Optional: Appendices*

How to Submit: Deliverables will be submitted on our submission platform used in Phase 1.  Please log back in to your account and the phase 2 submission will be at the end of the form


Winners and Prizes:  Winners will be determined and announced on October 14th.  The winners of this phase will receive a $2500 cash award, per team from CAI.  Prizes will be awarded separately for NASA selected inventions versus external; no set number of prizes has been decided


*appendices should be added and submitted with your business plan as a supplement, to be available on request from the judges


Business Plan Phase Steps for Challenge Teams
  1. Review the Business Plan template and guidance
  2. Please DO NOT contact inventors directly.  All contact to inventors should be made through the CAI team
  3. Add CAI to your schedules; there will be multiple training sessions and meetings with the Challenge Hosts. There will be no meetings during the week of official holidays.  Challenge Teams are not required to participate in any meetings; they are for your benefit and for any additional questions and guidance
  4. Start working on deliverables outlined above in Business Plan Overview and Submission Requirements above
    • Business Plan (Appendices)
    • Financial Model
    • Pitch Deck
    • Live Pitch
  5. Submit all deliverables by September 30th, 2016. Post your Team's business plan on the Canvas platform
  6. CAI will only be conducting business plan and pitch reviews starting on October 3rd, 2016 through October 7th, 2016.  Please indicate if your Team has VOIP and Webcam capability

phase 3: Startup

Start-up Overview and Submission Requirements


Teams incorporate their start-up; apply for the NASA license or the license appropriate for your invention, and apply for seed funding. In order to complete these three activities, it will also be necessary for the team to refine their commercialization plan, development plan, regulatory strategy and provide a comprehensive view of their management team and board of advisors


Submission Requirements:

  • revised commercialization plan
  • revised development plan
  • revised regulatory strategy
  • revised comprehensive view of their management team and board of advisors
  • application(s) for seed funding
  • application for NASA license 

As an alternative to creating your own start-up, you may want to find a start-up that has interest in licensing the invention.  In this case, you will be required to perform the above steps together with the licensing start-up

Start-up Phase Steps for Challenge Teams


  1. Review the Start-up template and guidance
  2. Review potential seed funders that have agreed to participate in this Challenge; they will be posted on the Challenge website and will continue to be updated throughout the Challenge
  3. It would be wise to do these three in parallel
    • Identify seed funding you will apply for and look at the seed funding application requirements.  
    • Identify NASA requirements in their start-up license
    • Incorporating your company
  4. Complete and submit all applications as soon as possible in this stage upon revising business plan components
  5. Submit all deliverables outlined under "submission requirements" above on December 31st, 2016