NASA Adds $60K in Prize Money to Rice University Entrepreneurship Program

Rice Alliance Press Release

The Rice Alliance for Technology & Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) of Rice University is pleased to announce the addition of three awards of $20,000 each sponsored by NASA to be presented at the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition.

The three new NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Prizes will be awarded by NASA for the best business plans that represent an engineering technology which has applications to both the NASA space program and to Earth-based activities. These awards will be in addition to the $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Life Sciences Innovation Award, for a total of $80,000 in cash to be awarded by NASA.

“For decades, the NASA space program has been a source of technology advances which provide benefits not only in space, but also on Earth. This award continues that tradition,” said Brad Burke, managing director, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship.

“The NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Award will encourage development of commercial technologies that can address the technology challenges of space flight and increase the awareness of the contributions being made by the NASA Johnson Space Center to the business community, the Houston region, and to the overall success of the space program,” said Jeffrey R. Davis, MD, Director, Space Life Sciences.

Teams that will be considered for one of the three $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Awards must have a business plan related to technology commercialization that has applicability to NASA space program (with some type of application on Earth) in the area of engineering.

Technology innovation examples include:

— Power, Propulsion and Chemical Processing

— Communications, Avionics and Sensors

— Space Habitation/Life Support Systems

— Mobility and Mechanisms – including In Situ Resource Utilization

— Analysis and Integration

— Thermal Systems

— Operations, Supportability and Logistics

— Structures and Radiation Shielding

— Cross Cutting/Systems Engineering Innovations are also sought

NASA will again sponsor the $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Life Sciences Innovation Award begun in 2008. The cash prize will be awarded to the team with the best business plan that presents a life sciences technology which has application to both the NASA space life science program and to Earth-based activities. Example technology challenges include:

Technology innovations that address:

— Bone loss and osteoporosis

— Cardiovascular alterations and cardiac problems

— Sleep problems, human performance factors, and chronobiology (biorhythms)

— Radiation Effects

— Muscle Changes and muscular atrophy

— Neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors

— Nutrition (including food systems), physical fitness, and rehabilitation

— Neurovestibular adaptation (inner ear and balance)

— Smart medical devices: remote medical care/telemedicine

— Transportable diagnostic devices, minimally or non-invasive tools, and low-power/self-powered devices, requiring little storage space

— Biomedical and environmental health technologies including monitoring technologies for air/water/surface contaminants

— Human factors engineering, habitability design, and human-robotics interaction technologies

Michele Brekke, Director of NASA JSC Innovation Partnerships Office, NASA Johnson Space Center, said, “We are very pleased to be partnering with the Rice Alliance to support the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition. The Competition brings business and engineering students together with investors, to support the commercialization of the latest technology developments to create new start-up companies.”

By partnering with the Rice Alliance, NASA will increase awareness on the role NASA plays in driving technology innovations which have benefits on Earth; therefore, educating students, faculty, and the general public on how research and innovations provide greater societal benefits.

The winner of the NASA Award will also qualify to compete for the overall Grand Prize at the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition. The Grand Prize winner of the world’s largest and richest business plan competition is eligible to receive up to $225,000 in equity investment, $40,000 in cash, plus over $100,000 in mentoring and incubation services. The total potential value of the cash and prizes to the winner is over $365,000.

The 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition will take place on April 16-18, 2009. The competition, hosted by Rice Alliance, is the largest and richest intercollegiate MBA/graduate-level business plan competition in the world hosting 36 teams from around the world and 160 judges from the business community. In 2009, more than $700,000 in total cash and prizes will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at the Westin Galleria Houston.

About the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) is Rice University’s flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship. The mission of the Rice Alliance is to provide entrepreneurship education and to support the commercialization of technology innovations and the creation of new companies in the Texas and Houston region.

Since inception in 1999, the Rice Alliance has assisted in the launch of over 230 new technology companies, which have raised more than one-half-billion dollars in early stage funding. Of these, approximately 30 companies have been launched based on technology developed by Rice faculty and researchers and licensed from the Rice Office of Technology Transfer.

Unique among many entrepreneurship centers, the Rice Alliance was formed as a strategic alliance of three schools at Rice University: the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management.

In 2008 and 2007, Rice University was recognized as one of the top 25 Best Graduate Entrepreneurship Programs in the U.S. by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. In 2008, the Rice Alliance was awarded the Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program in the U.S. by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and Houston’s Greatest Economic Development Ally by the Greater Houston Partnership. In 2007, the Rice Alliance was recognized as the #1 University Entrepreneurship Center in the U.S. for Enterprise Creation by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.