At a Glance
- The ISS National Lab Sponsored Program model attracts third-party funding to support spaceflight research to solve big problems on Earth.
- The Sponsored Program model continues to grow, with more than $20 million total independent funding committed through Sponsored Programs to date.
- The ISS National Lab accelerates innovative cross-cutting R&D through support of these programs and individual projects in key focus areas with quantifiably high value.
The ISS National Lab is not only a destination for spaceflight R&D; it is transitioning to a multi-user, multi-national platform for commerce, education, engineering, science, and technology. The ISS National Lab accelerates success for this diverse user community, providing a tangible impact to U.S. taxpayers.
CASIS uses a quantitative assessment of feasibility and value to evaluate potential projects, and has combined this knowledge with a robust understanding of customer needs to identify research focus areas that will optimize impact from ISS National Lab R&D. CASIS uses these focus areas to target both new users and sponsor organizations—building a balanced portfolio, driving utilization, and optimizing resources.
As an innovation platform that can solve big challenges, the ISS National Lab has developed a successful Sponsored Program model that enables sponsor organizations to ask new questions and explore key variables using the ISS as a tool in their innovation portfolio. The model attracts third-party funding (either whole or partial) from private industry, academia, and non-NASA government agencies to support research competitions for projects that seek to use the ISS National Lab to solve cross-cutting challenges.
The ISS National Lab provides a platform to solve big challenges and cross-cutting issues through collaborations with innovators from the private sector, academia, and government. The ISS National Lab has formed several public-private partnerships and collaborations focused on addressing such key challenges, such as regenerative medicine and cotton sustainability.
Evolution of the CASIS Sponsored Program model has resulted in a growing legacy of multi-year partnerships that involve bigger and more innovative collaborations. Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and regional incubators have successfully used the Sponsored Program model, which is flexible to meet the needs and budgets of varied partner organizations.
New FY17 collaborations with organizations such as Target Corporation complement multi-year, repeat CASIS collaborations with the MassChallenge business accelerator program, Boeing, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bringing the total independent funding committed through Sponsored Programs to date to more than $20 million, which flows either through CASIS or directly to principal investigators.
FY17 Sponsored Program activities included CASIS collaborations with:
The National Science Foundation (NSF)
A solicitation supporting combustion research, the second CASIS-NSF effort, resulted in three awardees.
- Objective: To study combustion and thermal transport, toward industrial applications in consumer products, electronics, manufacturing, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, and clean energy.
- Sponsor: Division of Chemical, Bioengineering and Environmental Transport, NSF
- Program: Combustion and Thermal Transport Processes Research at the International Space Station to Benefit Life on Earth
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
A solicitation through the NCATS Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program provided five awardees with up to two flight opportunities.
- Objective: To develop microphysiological systems to model human diseases and assess efficacy and toxicity of therapeutic agents.
- Sponsor: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), NIH
- Program: Coordinated Microphysiological Systems Program for Translational Research in Space
University of Florida
A solicitation awarded two new-to-space investigators.
- Objective: To support research faculty in ISS R&D initiatives to create practical applications for improving quality of life, advancing biomedical sciences, increasing agricultural productivity, and protecting the environment.
- Sponsor: University of Florida
- Program: Space Research Initiative
University of Wisconsin-Madison
A competition among Wisconsin middle- and high-school students inspired participation of more than 700 students from more than 60 schools, with one student awarded a flight opportunity.
- Objective: To inspire literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) among Wisconsin students through a competition to grow protein crystals.
- Sponsor: University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Program: Space Crystal Prize
A joint research solicitation opened for submission in FY17, and awardees will be announced in 2018.
- Objective: To inspire researchers and innovators to propose ISS R&D solutions in a variety of sectors to improve cotton crop production on Earth.
- Sponsor: Target Corporation
- Program: ISS Cotton Sustainability Challenge
A competition that inspired students in grades 7–12 to design spaceflight DNA experiments to solve real-world challenges (two awardees).
- Objective: To inspire and engage students through a national education competition supporting STEM education objectives.
- Sponsors: Boeing, miniPCR, Math for America, and New England Biolabs, Inc.
- Program: Genes in Space Annual Competition
For the fourth year, an ISS National Lab sidecar prize was awarded as part of the MassChallenge business accelerator program, the largest-ever startup accelerator (three awardees).
- Objective: To enable innovative concepts and ideas from entrepreneurs and small businesses to achieve commercial viability through use of the ISS National Lab to advance their R&D.
- Sponsor: Boeing
- Program: Technology in Space Annual Prize
Through these larger programs and individual outreach to new customers, CASIS is accelerating success for a diverse range of ISS National Lab users, providing tangible return to U.S. taxpayers. To maximize this return, CASIS has developed a methodology to quantitatively assess value and impact of potential projects and has applied this knowledge to its targeted outreach strategy for both users and sponsor organizations.
Ideal research areas have high feasibility for technical execution and downstream commercialization as well as high potential impact in the realms of innovation, economic value, and humanitarian application. To build a balanced portfolio of projects, drive utilization, and optimize resources, CASIS developed research focus areas (examples listed below) for outreach that correlate with established customer needs and the value-impact assessment framework:
- Drug development and delivery
- Models of aging and chronic disease
- Regenerative medicine
- Crop science
- Novel materials development and improved manufacturing
- Telecommunication materials
- Semiconductor manufacturing
- Additive manufacturing
- Quantum satellite technology
- Maritime security
- Applications for weather, agriculture, energy, and urban development