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NASA offers $110,000 in Prizes at 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition

Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship announces new $50,000, NASA “Game Changer” Commercial Space Innovation Prize to the World’s Largest and Richest Competition.
RBPC 2010 Logo

HOUSTON – (February 23, 2010) -- The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) of Rice University is pleased to announced that NASA’s Johnson Space Center will increase their prize offering with the addition of the $50,000 NASA “Game Changer” Commercial Space Innovation Prize. This will increase the NASA prizes to a total of $110,000 at the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition. This is the third year that NASA Johnson Space Center has sponsored prizes at the competition.
“The new $50,000 NASA “Game Changer” Commercial Space Innovation Prize will recognize the team’s business plan with the best idea related to commercial space innovation,” said David Leestma, director of the Advanced Planning Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “The award encourages the identification and development of new breakthrough technologies and business models in the commercial space market or market creation to realize this value.”
The award will go to the team that is judged to have the best business plan that supports the commercial space market by addressing a need in technology, service or product for the for sub-orbit, Earth orbit, or the moon exploration.

Example areas of the commercial space market:


  • Microgravity Entertainment/Tourism Flights (using sub-orbital reusable launch vehicles RLVs)

Earth Orbit

  • Space Taxi (Earth to Orbit Space Transportation)
  • Microgravity Research
  • Servicing of Satellites

Moon & Beyond

  • Space Tourism
  • Participatory Exploration, Media
  • Transportation to & from the Lunar Surface
  • Power Delivery Service
  • Food and Water Innovations (e.g. growth, acquisition, disposal, and/or reuse)
  • Medical Support Services
  • Space Suits and Personnel System

NASA will continue to offer the two, $20,000, NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Prizes for the best business plans that represent an engineering technology that has applications to both the NASA space program and to Earth-based activities. The $20,000, NASA Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award will again be granted to the team/company that presents the best business plan with life science technology that has application to both the NASA space program and to Earth-based activities.
“For decades, the NASA space program has been a source of technology advances which provide benefits not only in space, but also on Earth, which are supported by the Engineering and Life Science awards. The new “Game Changer Award” brings a dynamic twist with an increased emphasis on commercial applications,” said Brad Burke, managing director, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. “It is always exciting to see the business ideas and to contribute to the success of NASA space flight programs.”
By partnering with the Rice Alliance, NASA increases awareness in the role NASA plays in driving technology innovations that have benefits on Earth; therefore, educating students, faculty, and the general public how research and innovations provide greater societal benefits.
Leestma added , “We are pleased to be partnering with the Rice Alliance to support the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition. The Competition brings business and engineering students together with industry, investors and other key members of the business community, to support the commercialization of the latest technology developments to create new start-up companies.”
The competitors for the NASA awards will also compete for the overall prizes at the 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition which equal more than $800,000. The Grand Prize winner of the world’s largest and richest business plan competition is eligible to receive a package worth up to $325,000, including up to $225,000 in equity investment, $20,000 in cash, plus over $80,000 in mentoring and incubation services.
About Rice University Business Plan Competition:
Rice University Business Plan Competition (RBPC) is the world’s richest and largest business plan competition. During the competition’s nine-year history, 37% of teams (84 out of 228 past competitors) have gone on to successfully launch their business. In 2008, 25 of the 36 teams launched their companies after competing at the RBPC. More than $150 million in early-stage funding has been raised by Rice Business Plan Competition participant companies. There are 200+ judges on the judging panel consisting of “who’s who” of the investor, venture capital, entrepreneur, & business community. 76% of our judges said that they were considering investing in a 2009 competitor. In 2010, more than $800,000 in total cash and prizes will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the InterContinental Houston Hotel.
Media Contact:
Mary Lynn Fernau
Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship

NASA Johnson Space Center                                     
Josh Byerly
Johnson Space Center, Houston