NASA Awards Prizes to Six Startup Companies in Entrepreneur’s Challenge

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NASA’s Science Mission Directorate has awarded prize funding of $100,000 each to six entrepreneurial startup companies under its pilot Entrepreneur’s Challenge program for concepts ranging from machine learning to enable exploration and other technologies to new ways to build instruments to study the universe.

NASA partnered with Starburst, the global aerospace hub, to launch a pilot program to engage entrepreneurs.

The challenge’s purpose is to invite fresh ideas for the development of new instruments and technologies to advance the agency’s science exploration goals and increase participation by entrepreneurial companies in the agency’s technology portfolio.

The competition was conducted in three rounds. In the first round, nearly 80 submissions were sent in from companies nationwide, and a judging panel selected 15 ideas to advance. The next round was a virtual event held on July 29, 2020, where selectees presented their ideas to a judging panel of NASA program managers. The judges selected ten companies for awards of $20,000 each. In the final round, the participants worked to refine their concepts and gave their final presentations on October 22, 2020, as part of the Innovation and Opportunity Conference held by NASA’s Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program. Six of the companies received an additional $80,000 in prize funding as determined by the same panel of judges from the previous round.

The following companies were selected as winners of the Entrepreneur’s Challenge:

  • Cognitive Space, Houston, Texas
  • Evermore Intelligence, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • MOBILion, Chadds Fords, Pennsylvania
  • Trace Matters Scientific, Somerville, Massachusetts
  • Guardion Technologies, Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Cold Quanta, Boulder, Colorado

To learn more about the Entrepreneur’s Challenge, visit