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Guest: Kira Blackwell; Topics: NASA iTech, IP, mentorship, start-up businesses, entrepreneurial, team management, Earth and space applications plus more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Kira Blackwell to the program to discuss the new NASA iTech organization. BE sure to visit their website and follow along with us at www.nasaitech.com. During our 62 minute one segment program, Ms. Blackwell started out by telling about iTech, what it is, and how it works. The NASA iTech organization strives to drive innovation with young companies, even start-ups, that have terrestrial technology that might also be used for space exploration and in space development. One of the key benefits of NASA iTech is that since it does not make grants or fund companies, 100% of the company intellectual property (IP) remains with the company. Ms. Blackwell explains this benefit several different times during our discussion. Because of the iTech approach, they have been successful in helping their participating companies secure $48 million in private funding in the short time iTech has been operating. Kira then described the application process which consists of submitting a five page white paper about your concept, then she described the down select process from 25 participants to 10 to three final companies. iTech is winding up Cycle 3 at this time. Note the efficiency of the down select process and those participating in it to evaluate the submissions. Later our guest talked about the interest in those companies that participated but did not get through the down select stages. Don't miss this discussion because as it turns out, being a participant in the iTech selection process opens the opportunity door that often leads to financing and great networking for your company.
One of the benefits for the three winning companies is the NASA mentoring that the company gets. Kira explained the mentoring process and who provides it. Mentoring is just one of the noncash benefits for participating in NASA iTech. Listeners had several questions around the issue of IP, government funding and the methodology used by iTech. Timelines were an important part of our discussion as they like to a five year timeline to commercial market as iTech is about developing commercial products. In fact, listen to how our guest explained the commercial nature and focus of iTech and their goal of being able to buy the technology for NASA applications once it is available on the market.
Kira took the opportunity to mention several of the successful businesses. She also cited examples of business with terrestrial applications and the potential for being applicable in space. Listeners had several email questions for her including one that mentioned targeted genetic engineering for possible long duration human spaceflight gene modification. Our guest had much to say about this but said such an idea would likely be in the X Factor segment, which she described as something like "if NASA only knew!" Don't miss all of what she said on this topic. Listener Paul asked about budget stability for iTech given some of the pulls and stretches in the NASA budget process. Don't miss what Kira said about iTech budget stability. The last question came from Adrian in San Diego regarding possible cross communication and maybe even competition with other NASA or even other government programs. Adrian cited NASA NIAC as an example. Kira explained why iTech works to not replicate or cross over into other program areas or cause conflicts. In addition, since NIAC does funding, their approach to IP is very different from what iTech does given iTech provides no funding. Don't miss what Kira said in response to Adrian's question.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program. Ms. Kira Blackwell can be reach through the iTech website or her Facebook and LinkedIn pages as well as through me.