Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition Terms and Conditions



Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition (hereinafter, the “Program”) is an incubator program led by parallel18 and the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), both programs of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (TRUST), and powered by Engine-4. This Program aims to recruit and support students from local universities as they commercialize a select group of NASA’s patented technologies. It combines the superpowers of NASA’s expert support, with the TTO’s patent know-how, parallel18’s incubation curriculum, and Engine-4’s prototyping capabilities. Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition intends on leveraging the strengths of the local talent pool and offering students the right tools to transform their mindset from traditional to innovative, as they work to create viable commercialization plans for one of the available technologies.

By supporting the most promising university students on the island, we’re also pushing forward Puerto Rico’s innovation ecosystem and positioning these students to pursue purpose-driven business ventures.


The main purpose is to provide local university students with the necessary toolkit to tackle pressing needs in Puerto Rico in creative ways, hence establishing the foundations for innovation-based startups to emerge locally and grow to global markets. The focus industries the student will work on with this goal in mind are pharmaceutical manufacturing and agriculture.


3.1 Coach up to 60 students in best practices regarding customer discovery, product development, hardware prototyping and technology commercialization, hence contributing entrepreneurial problem solving skills and a more innovative mindset to their professional tool-kit.

3.2 Teams, formed of three students each, will have developed and presented a complete business model canvas and prototype around one of the provided NASA technologies, including a product roadmap to achieve a functional minimum viable product and financing proposal. The three teams with the most viable and innovative project will be selected as winners.


Students that apply must be currently enrolled in a STEM-related university program pertaining to an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at the time of the application. Each candidate will apply as an individual, but can indicate preferred team-members. Moreover, teams of no more than three students will be formed once the Program kicks off. Participants applying to the program must be eighteen (18) years of age or older.

Once teams are formalized, technology preferences will be communicated to the organizers. Team should be composed of three team members.

4.1 Team lead (only one)

Each team will assign one team lead to serve as the point person for said team. The team lead will be the main point of contact between the Program and the team, and responsible for providing the team’s deliverables as requested by Program. This role is not meant to imply greater ownership of the project’s end result.

4.2 Team Member (two)

Teams must be composed of three participants, including one team lead and two members.


The Program will include a variety of activities and/or events, which will be made available to participants of each project, and among which a distinction will be made between mandatory and optional activities.

5.1 Mandatory Activities

During participation in the 12-week Program and during the term of execution of the project, all team members must participate in the following mandatory activities:

  1. Prepare a scope of work and complete an option agreement with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. Virtual program kickoff activities, mentor sessions, completed assignments, and office hours with Program collaborators as indicated by Program organizers.
  2. Prototyping sessions, to be held in-person at Engine-4 in full compliance of social distancing norms and capacity limitations. More information and instructions will be provided to accepted applicants.
  3. Pitch Competition at the end of the program, during which team presentations will be evaluated and winners will be announced.
  4. Other activities within the Program that are designated as mandatory, a circumstance that will be communicated in advance to each team.

If the team members do not participate in the activities and/or events specified herein without prior authorization to be excused, the Program may evaluate putting an early end to the student’s participation, depending on the reasons.

Program organizers will allow no more than one (1) excused absence, so long as each team is represented by a team member at all mandatory events.

5.2 Optional Activities

Optionally, the team members may participate in and/or carry out the following activities, unless these have been categorized as mandatory, as set out in the previous subsection:

  1. Additional mentor office hours are made available by Program organizers.
  2. Other activities: within the Program organized for the benefit of the teams and individual participants may become available throughout the duration of the Program.


6.1 Mentor Session Preparation Materials. Certain mentors or Program organizers may request that teams prepare written materials prior to or as a result of a specific mentor session. Lack of compliance with written deliverables will be evaluated by Program organizers while evaluating team performance.

6.2 End of Program Requirements. At the conclusion of the Program, unless participation is otherwise terminated as provided in this document, Teams are expected to provide Program organizers with the following: (1) Presentation slides that outline design and commercialization efforts that occurred during the Program; (2) Detailed written report that includes final product description, intended market application, preliminary market information, and competitor research, following the guidelines provided during the Program; (3) Present physical prototype developed during Program.


During the Program, teams will meet with Engine-4 staff, who will assess prototype viability and approve delivery of necessary equipment and materials to execute the prototype.


Both industry focuses, understood herein as being pharmaceutical manufacturing and agriculture, will each have three NASA technologies associated with them, disclosed to participants during the application process.

After teams are formed, each team will be responsible for communicating to Program organizers the technology for which they wish to develop a commercialization plan, based on availability. Said plan can later be submitted to NASA’s Technology Transfer Program if the participants so wish in order to formally apply to license the technology.

Participation in the Program in no way substitutes NASA’s licensing procedures.

Participation in the Program does not constitute a commitment to form a company or a business-founder relationship with the other team members. At the end of the Program period participants may engage in dialogue regarding the intention of moving forward with commercialization and ownership of the idea beyond the Program.


The Program duration is 12 weeks and will be understood to have begun on the date established by Program organizers as orientation day. This date will be notified once the companies are selected.


10.1 Procedure

Program participation will be made available to interested parties in the form of an application to a competition.

Communication about the opening of a call for applications will be conducted by means of a notice published in the Program’s website and social media platforms. Collaborators may publish these efforts in their respective platforms, as well.

10.2 Means of application

Interested students may be entered solely through the electronic platform entry system available on the website:

Incomplete applications will be deemed not submitted.


Once the application period closes, applicants will be notified within two weeks regarding their acceptance status, as determined by the parallel18, TTO, and Engine-4 teams.

We want to ensure that the participants in Challenge to Innovate: NASA Edition are looking to be impactful members of the technology/entrepreneurial ecosystem. This means that students have a clear motivation to take advantage of the Program’s resources in order to creatively commercialize NASA’s patented technology in a manner applicable to Puerto Rico’s current needs. Commitment and availability to consistently participate during the twelve (12) weeks of Program engagements will determine whether the candidates motives are clearly aligned with those of the Program.

  1. Does the candidate demonstrate genuine interest in becoming an active part of the entrepreneurial community?
  2. Will this candidate clearly benefit from and contribute to the community the Program aims to form?
  3. Does the candidate have the necessary background to tackle the challenge of commercializing and prototyping based on the provided NASA technologies?
  4. Has the candidate clearly communicated their personal goals associated with their motivation to participate in the Program?


Once the evaluation is concluded, the program will have 72 hours to inform the selected participants about the final decision and extend an offer to join the Program.


Upon the participant’s acceptance of the email offer to join the Program, which includes acknowledgement and full acceptance of Program Agreement including Program terms and conditions, the incubation process begins, which requires the execution of tasks by both the team members of the Project and by Program.


Upon Program completion, teams will present their business models and prototypes to a panel of judges, representative of collaborators that made this Program possible, here understood to be Engine-4, NASA, and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. Said judges will select up to four winners, each of whom will receive a cash prize of up to two-thousand dollars (USD).


Without prejudice to the other grounds for early termination set forth in these requirements, Program may adopt such a decision in the following cases, applying the sanctions detailed below:

15.1 Early termination of the project for reasons not attributable to the team members

Program organizers may impose an early end to the project on its own initiative or at the request of the team members in the following situations:

  1. Failure to achieve critical results or continuity milestones established by Program and/or the team members, for reasons not attributable to the lack of diligence of the team members, duly qualified by Program organizers.
  2. Having become convinced that the project will not achieve the expected results, that it cannot be executed within reasonable parameters, for reasons not attributable to the lack of diligence of the team members, duly qualified by Program organizers.
  3. Other causes not attributable to the team members’ lack of diligence in carrying out the activities related to the Program, duly qualified by Program organizers.

If requested by the team members and accepted by the Program, it shall be understood that the project has been finished early, from the date of the request.

The team must deliver a performance final report, within a reasonable period to be set out in the notification of early termination, which shall not exceed 30 days from the complete processing of the same, detailing prototyping and business plan progress achieved up until termination.

15.2 Early termination of the project by deed or act attributable to the team members

Program organizers may put an early end to the project if the team fails to comply through negligence or lacks due diligence of its obligations. The following situations may constitute breach of the contract:

  1. Denial or hindrance of project monitoring.
  2. Non-compliance with critical results or continuity milestones established in the Program, for reasons attributable to the lack of diligence by the participants, duly qualified by the Program organizers.
  3. Having become convinced that the project will not achieve the expected results or that it cannot be executed within reasonable parameters, for reasons attributable to a lack of diligence by the beneficiary, as duly qualified by Program organizers.
  4. Other reasons attributable to the team members’ lack of diligence in carrying out their activities related to the Program, duly qualified by Program organizers.


The participants warrant and represent to Parallel18 as follows:

16.1 The participants shall not violate any intellectual property rights, confidentiality, right of privacy or other right of any person or entity whomsoever.

16.2 The participants represent that the information provided by them to the Program organizers during the application phase is accurate and complete. Each participant understands that in the event that they have failed to disclose any relevant information which may have impacted the Program organizers’ decision to accept them into the Program, or have provided false information, Program organizers will be entitled to rescind the contract with immediate effect, in addition to any other remedies which Program organizers and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, may have by contract or by law.

16.3 The participants understand that the Program’s structure entails the use of prototyping machinery as provided by Engine-4. The misuse of this machinery may lead to damage or injury to the participant and as such, all machinery is to be utilized responsibly and as indicated by the Engine-4 staff.


The participants shall be considered as having the legal status of an independent partner vis-à-vis Program organizers, and nothing contained in or relating to this agreement shall be construed as establishing or creating an employer/employee relationship with Program organizers.

Neither TRUST programs nor Engine-4 shall be responsible for any loss, accident, damage or injury suffered by the participants, arising during or as a result of the Program, including travel, whether sustained on TRUST or Engine-4’s premises or not.


The waiver by either Program organizers or any participant of any provision or breach of these terms and conditions and, if selected, the contract, shall not prevent subsequent enforcement of such provision or excuse further breaches.


The participants hereby indemnify and hold the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, parallel18, TTO, and Engine-4 harmless from and against the full amount of any and all claims and liabilities, including legal fees and costs, which are or may be made, filed or assessed against parallel18, TTO, TRUST, or Engine-4 at any time and based on, or arising out of, breach by the participants of any of its representations or warranties under these terms and conditions and, if selected, the agreement, regardless of whether such representations and warranties are explicitly incorporated here in or are referred to in any attached Appendices.


The participants shall not assign, transfer, pledge or make any other disposition of the agreement or any part thereof, or any of their rights, claims or obligations under the agreement except with the prior written consent of parallel18.


Questions may be addressed to the following e-mail address: