Rules and Eligibility

Equity and startup rules

Entering Teams: Only entries that have the intent of creating a startup will be accepted into the Challenge

Startups:  Startups will be created during the course of the challenge

U.S. Incorporation: The Challenge is International.  However, all startups must reside and incorporate within the United States.

Board of Advisors: The sponsor and venture fund will assist the new startups with creating their board of advisors

team rules and eligibility

To be eligible to participate in this Challenge, individuals and Challenge Teams must adhere to the following eligibility requirements:

NOTE: at the minimum your team must have at least 2 members, and either member must have invention relevant experience and/or have 3 years experience as an entrepreneur.  You can continue to build and change your team throughout the Challenge


Registration: Each Challenge Team leader must execute a Letter of Intent (LOI) and be approved to proceed in the Challenge  


Startup Intentions: Only entries that have the intent of creating a startup will be accepted into the Challenge


Team Names: For team names and for required documents we require teams to stick to the guidelines for file naming conventions.  However, we encourage teams to create alternate team names to show their spirit and creativity


Team Members: Challenge Team members can be from the university faculty, university Technology Transfer, university alumni, the team can be from different universities and can also include business leaders in the community.  Additional members can be anyone who the team believes will help them be successful as long as they adhere to the eligibility requirements and rules outlined in this Challenge

  • Age: Each Challenge Team member must be 18 years old or older
  • Location: Team members can be located anywhere in the world
  • Affiliation: No Challenge Team member may be employed by The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI). Employees, officers, directors, representatives, and vendors or any company involved in promotion, administration or fulfillment relating to the Challenge and their immediate family members and persons living in their same household are not eligible to participate in the Challenge
  • University Participation: At least two members of each challenge team must be currently enrolled in a university as graduate or undergraduate students, medical students or residents, or postdoctoral fellows. We will also count any postdoctoral fellows in hospitals or industry programs, such as Pfizer's. MDs in residency are also considered "University" participants
  • Team Roles
    • Team Leader: Core team member accountable for all deliverables and the Challenge's single point of contact
    • Core Team Member: members responsible for deliverables
    • Mentors/Advisors: Members of the team may participate as mentors/advisors and represent the disciplines outlined below; there are NO maximum number of mentors/advisors. It must be very clear how any identified mentors/advisors will contribute to the success of the Challenge Team and also what specific commitment they have to the Challenge Team in terms of hours of consultation, ability to evaluate for seed funding, etc.
    • Collaborator: A collaborator is defined as an organization that agrees to help support the team: seed funding organizations, service companies (e.g., legal, financial, etc.)
  • Disciplines: All teams must have at a minimum the following disciplines represented:
    • Business: can be pursuing an MBA, studying business as an undergraduate or come from the business community
    • Scientific/Medical/Engineering: a person with invention-related experience (academic or working experience).  Can be in medical school, graduate school, a post-doc, in residency or, alternatively, a medical doctor, graduate with a scientific degree, or someone in the medical/scientific profession working in an industry related to your invention
    • Entrepreneurship: our preference is a person who has had experience starting a company in advanced manufacturing and/or in the industry related to your invention, e.g. the entrepreneur is a "serial entrepreneur" and has performed the foregoing more than once.  We require that the entrepreneur has founded a company; raised dilutive and non-dilutive capital for that company and have exited either successfully or unsuccessfully.  We prefer entrepreneurs that have tenure of at least five years (a minimum of three years) in a start-up and also have had corporate experience
    • At least one of your Core members MUST represent either a Business or Medical/Scientific discipline
    • One person may represent a maximum of two disciplines
    • The Core Team, Mentors, Advisors, and Collaborators may all represent any of the three discipline requirements
    • Suggested Discipline - Legal:  though not required, we encourage participants to find legal expertise for their teams (e.g. Law students, Lawyers, Legal Counsel, etc.)
  • Size: Each Challenge Team must have a minimum of two members; there is no maximum team size
  • Role: Each member of the Challenge Team should have a defined team role and discipline
  • Team Changes: Challenge Teams may augment their team and/or change members of their team.  Inform the Challenge hosts at for any changes to your team and have them fill the CDA form
    • If Challenge Team member changes are to the core team or for any members of the team for which there is a mandatory discipline, please inform CAI. New members of the team must be submitted on the CDA form. CAI will approve the team change or get back to the Challenge Team with new requirements. If the Challenge Team is unable to fulfill the requirements, they may choose to no longer participate in the Challenge

submission rules

 All Submissions must comply with the following rules:

  • The Challenge is void wherever prohibited or restricted by law. CAI reserves the right to disqualify any applicant to the Challenge
  • This Challenge is subject to all applicable United States federal, state and local laws and regulations. Participation constitutes applicant’s full and unconditional agreement to these Official Rules and Sponsor, CAI decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Challenge. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein
  • In the case of Federal grantees, Challenge Teams may not use federal funds to develop submissions for this Challenge unless permitted under the terms of their grant award
  • In the case of Federal contractors, Challenge teams may not use federal funds from a contract to develop submissions for this Challenge or to fund efforts in support of this Challenge
  • By participating in this Challenge, Challenge Team members agree to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal Government and its related entities, CAI, except in the case of willing misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from a Challenge team's participation in this Challenge, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise. By participating in this Challenge, Challenge Team members agree to indemnify the Federal Government and CAI against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Challenge activities
  • Based on the subject matter of the Challenge, the type of work that it will possibly require, as well as an analysis of the likelihood of any claims for death, bodily injury, or property damage, or loss potentially resulting from Challenge participation, Applicants are not required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility in order to participate in this Challenge

Challenge Logos/Website:  

  • Challenge Team members agree that they will not use the name or the logo or trademark or other mark of “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration", "The Center for Advancing Innovation," or any variation, adaptation, or abbreviation thereof, or the name of any of their respective trustees, officers, faculty, students, employees, or agents, or any trademark owned in any advertising or publicity (including but not limited to advertising or publicity on your organization’s website) without first seeking and obtaining the prior written permission of NASA and/or CAI, as applicable
  • Not withstanding the foregoing, Challenge Team members agree to acknowledge the support provided by CAI in all brochures, website postings, informational and marketing materials, annual reports and publications describing the Challenge programs and activities you have funded or otherwise supported and to use the format agreed upon by the CAI
  • In addition you agree to allow The Center for Advancing Innovation to post your organization’s logo and a link to your organization’s website on the main Challenge website CAI will not use the logo or link beyond the Challenge website


  • Deliverables must not use any organization logos unless written permission is provided from the organization that owns the logo
  • Deliverables may not state that there is endorsement by NASA or CAI
  • Licenses are not guaranteed to teams and their selected invention.  Negotiations will need to occur in order to receive a licensing agreement.
  • One Team Leader will serve as the point of contact for all deliverables and communications (this is in grey in the team leader section of the Core Team Letter of Intent form)
  • The Team Leader must fill out and agree to a CDA form and LOI form on behalf of the entire team. The implication is that the Team Leader must have an agreement amongst team members that he/she is signing on behalf of all team members

Original Work: Challenge submissions must be the original work of the Challenge Team. Upon submission, each applicant warrants that he or she is the sole author and owner of the submission that the work is wholly original with the application (or is an improved version of an existing work that the applicant has sufficient rights to use – including the substantial improvement of existing open-source work) and that it does not infringe any copyright or any other rights of any third party of which applicant is aware.  Each applicant warrants further that the Submission is free of malware. Each applicant retains all rights in its Submission

information sharing

Information sharing is fundamental to the attainment of the Challenge’s goals of collaborative innovation among the Participants. However, information sharing during the time frame of the Challenge is for the limited purpose of creating business plans and live pitches, including commercialization plans, development plans, regulatory strategies, intellectual property strategies and such other deliverables as the Challenge Teams believe are critical for the business plan of the Challenge. Details for the Challenge can be found on the Overview Page.


Accordingly, the Challenge Teams shall only use Confidential Information for the Challenge. In addition, the Challenge Teams will keep all Confidential Information they receive directly or indirectly from any other Participant strictly confidential and, except as permitted herein, shall not disclose, reveal or share any portion of the Confidential Information to or with any individual or entity. 


As used herein, “Confidential Information” means any and all information that is presented or disclosed by a Participant to any other Participant(s) in written, electronic, visual or oral form or in any other tangible medium during meetings, communications, or other information exchanges held in connection with the business plan of the Challenge. Confidential Information shall include, but not be limited to, unpublished data, research results, unpublished proprietary methods, financial/valuation models, business plans, business model canvases, theories, drawings and figures or visual depictions of research data or results regardless of format. Confidential Information also includes anything disclosed by a Participant (the “Disclosing Participant”) to another Participant that the Disclosing Participant marks in writing as “Confidential.”


“Confidential Information” shall not include, and the obligations contained herein shall not extend to, any part of the Confidential Information: (a) that can be demonstrated to have been in the public domain or publicly known at the time of disclosure; (b) that can be demonstrated to have been in the possession of or that can be demonstrated to have been readily available to Signatory from another source prior to the disclosure; (c) that becomes part of the public domain or publicly known by publication or otherwise, not due to any unauthorized act by Signatory; (d) that can be demonstrated as independently developed or acquired by Signatory without reference to or reliance upon such Confidential Information; or (e) that is required to be disclosed by law. 


additional rules


Taxes: You are responsible for all taxes and reporting related to any award you receive as part of the Challenge


Participant Restrictions and Bans:  The following participants and countries are banned from participating in this challenge. Afghanistan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), Central African Republic, China, Peoples Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Guinea, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kyrgystan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macau, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe


General Conditions: CAI reserves the right to cancel, suspend, and/or modify elements of the Challenge, for any reason, at CAI's discretion. Participation in this Challenge constitutes an applicant’s full and unconditional agreement to abide by the Challenge's Official Rules found within this webpage


Privacy Policy: collects personal information from you when you register on The information collected is subject to the privacy policy located at


Press:  All Challenge Teams, as a condition of participation in the Challenge, will be required to participate in media and press opportunities related to the Challenge at the request of  CAI.  CAI may, for example, request that the team:

  1. Prepare a 100-150 word description of the invention the Team is working on as well as the Team’s commercialization and development strategy that will be made available to media and may be released publicly, either in part or in its entirety
  2. Speak to the media during Challenge-related interviews
  3. Provide quotes and/or content for any Challenge-related press release
  4. Participation in media and press opportunities in no way requires Teams to disclose any proprietary or otherwise confidential information related to their businesses. Upon request CAI will provide consultation to any team to avoid such disclosures while participating in press related opportunities

CHALLENGE WEBSITE:  The Challenge website will serve as a resource for information about the Challenge, including rules, timelines and contributors. The Challenge website will not be used for fundraising or for the advertising or marketing of non-Challenge related events or activities.  The Challenge website is the sole property of CAI