The SPACE RACE Startup Challenge Announces 15 Winning Teams to Commercialize NASA Inventions

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Fifteen (15) winners and finalists of the SPACE RACE startup challenge were announced today by the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI). The SPACE RACE is a first-of-its-kind global initiative, which was formed in partnership with NASA to encourage the use of federally funded technologies by startup companies.

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SPACE RACE

The SPACE RACE challenge is a timely and promising response to the recent Presidential Memorandum, which addresses the need to focus on establishing policies concerning climate change.

Fifteen (15) winners and finalists of the SPACE RACE startup challenge were announced today by the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI). The SPACE RACE is a first-of-its-kind global initiative, which was formed in partnership with NASA to encourage the use of federally funded technologies by startup companies. Startups launched from the SPACE RACE will move on to Phase 3 of the challenge, where they will be tasked with incorporation and licensing NASA technologies. Startups will receive continued guidance from CAI and available support from NASA technical personnel. The SPACE RACE, orchestrated by CAI and sponsored by the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation, features eleven risk-mitigated inventions, conceived and developed by seven NASA field centers.

NASA collaborated with CAI, a 501(c)3 non-profit, to run a multi-phase business plan competition to launch startups and to encourage the adoption of NASA technologies. Leveraging NASA’s portfolio of technologies, CAI identified technologies within the industries of robotics, aeronautics, and energy that have near-term commercialization potential. The SPACE RACE crowdsourced driven industry and university entrepreneurs to create business models around these inventions and explore their market potential. All teams accepted were placed under a rigorous accelerator training and mentorship program for the duration of the challenge. The SPACE RACE was overseen by Daniel Lockney, Technology Transfer Program Executive at NASA, and by Rosemarie Truman, Founder of CAI.

"The SPACE RACE Startup Challenge has provided NASA with the unique opportunity to engage with bright minds and entrepreneurs from around the country and assist them in forming new companies to commercialize NASA technology. We’re very excited to continue our relationships with these high-energy startups and help guide them through the finish line of successful commercialization," said David Makufka, Manager, Technology Transfer & Partnerships at NASA Kennedy Space Center.

Rosemarie Truman, CAI Founder, added, “The SPACE RACE challenge is a timely and promising response to the recent Presidential Memorandum, which addresses the need to focus on establishing policies concerning climate change. We are enthusiastic about the impact these winning teams, focusing on renewable energy and other innovative technologies, will make as a result of this challenge.”

The winning entrepreneurs were selected based on 10-page business plans, financial models, and 20-minute “live pitches” to a panel of expert judges. Each winning team in the competition will be awarded a $2500 cash prize and will be guided through incorporation and NASA licensing with support from CAI. Winning teams will also move on to the third and final phase of the challenge, in which they will compete for up to $1.2 million in seed funding for their new companies.

The winning teams and their chosen NASA inventions are:

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center - DMO
Minus Tau
Invention #1: KSC-TOPS-6
A Device for Wire Fault Detection and Rerouting
Winner

University of Texas at El Paso - CDS
Sun City SmartWire
Invention #1: KSC-TOPS-6
A Device for Wire Fault Detection and Rerouting
Winner

Carnegie Mellon University - BGS
Tellus Acoustics
Invention #2: LEW-TOPS-61
Lightweight Acoustic Liner to Reduce Noise in Aircraft Engines
Winner

University of Guelph - GDP
Stratodynamics
Invention #4: LAR-TOPS-33
Lightweight UAV Sensing and Control System
Winner

Northern Illinois University - CS
Maverick Drones
Invention #4: LAR-TOPS-33
Lightweight UAV Sensing and Control System
Finalist

Johns Hopkins University - CEW
Genetoo
Invention #5: LAR-TOPS-97 / LAR-TOPS-183
Surface Particle Contamination Mitigation Methods
Winner

University of Texas at El Paso - OKB
Native Coatings
Invention #6: KSC-TOPS-24 / KSC-TOPS-25
Liquid Coating for Corrosion Prevention in Rebar
Winner

University of Rochester - APR
RA Tech
Invention #7: MFS-TOPS-33
Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing (EEMP)
Winner

Universidad Tecnológico de Ciudad Juárez - AOCCH
EDroneS
Invention #8: GSC-TOPS-34
High-resolution, real-time three-dimensional imaging
Winner

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - CEL
ElectroKite
Invention #9: LAR-TOPS-40
Kite-like Wind Power Generation Control System
Winner

University of Texas at El Paso
Windfinity
Invention #9: LAR-TOPS-40
Kite-like Wind Power Generation Control System
Finalist

University of Guelph - GDP
Stratodynamics
Invention #9: LAR-TOPS-40
Kite-like Wind Power Generation Control System
Finalist

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology - PC
Free Electron Designs
Invention #10: GRC-QL-0016
High-Power Density Solid Oxide Fuel Cell and Fabrication Process
Winner

University of California at Los Angeles - KL
Joule
Invention #11: TOP2-231
Compliant Electrode and Composite Materials for Piezoelectric Wind and Mechanical Energy Conversions
Winner

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business - RPF
Jakuta
Invention #11: TOP2-231
Compliant Electrode and Composite Materials for Piezoelectric Wind and Mechanical Energy Conversions
Finalist

The SPACE RACE opened for entry in January 2016 and crowdsourced more than 300 aspiring entrepreneurs. During the challenge, 37 teams, representing over 60 universities from the United States and abroad, were placed into CAI’s rigorous accelerator training, where they were provided education, advice, and mentorship by leading experts from aerospace, law, business, advanced manufacturing, venture capital, universities, foundations, and government.

“It was a pleasure to help startups in the robotics and aerospace industry find the best way of commercializing NASA's intellectual properties. It was great to witness innovative entrepreneurs from around the world who have built companies around NASA's inventions, which will improve our lives in the future," said Vit Goncharuk, CEO and Founder of Augmented Pixels.

A partial list of challenge advisors, mentors, and judges can be viewed at http://www.space-race.org/supporters. This virtual accelerator program was offered free of charge to SPACE RACE participants and included more than 40 training sessions. CAI will continue to guide new companies, spun out of the SPACE RACE, beyond the competition to ensure their success.

For more information on the challenge and our winners, please visit http://www.space-race.org/.

ABOUT CAI:
The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) is a global public-private partnership non-profit focused on creating a virtuous circle of innovation and driving growth breakthroughs through novel, creative paradigms and models. CAI's mission is to accelerate and increase the volume of technology transfer, translational research, commercialization, and entrepreneurship in various fields of research, including biomedical research, to make more research available to the world for educational and innovation purposes, improve the economy, and positively impact world health. Through its NIH-sponsored Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, Neuro Startup Challenge, and Nanotechnology Startup Challenge in Cancer competitions, CAI has launched 43 startups and trained more than 2000 entrepreneurs. For additional information about CAI, please visit http://www.thecenterforadvancinginnovation.org.

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