Status Report

NASA Centennial Challenge: Tissue Engineering Challenge Request for Information

By SpaceRef Editor
May 27, 2015
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – May 27, 2015

RESPONSE TEMPLATE – Posted on May 27, 2015 

General Information

    Solicitation Number: NNM15ZZP006L

    Posted Date: May 27, 2015

    FedBizOpps Posted Date: May 27, 2015

    Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

    Original Response Date: Jul 11, 2015

    Current Response Date: Jul 11, 2015

    Classification Code: A — Research and Development

    NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Procurement Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812


I. SUMMARY The Centennial Challenges Program is NASA’s flagship program for technology prize competitions ( The Centennial Challenges Program directly engages the public, academia, and industry in open prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies that have benefit to NASA and the nation. The program is an integral part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: . The Centennial Challenges program is seeking input on a Tissue Engineering Challenge being considered for start in 2015. The challenge would challenge competitors to create a thick tissue construct with cells performing functions of one of the four major solid organs (heart, lung, liver, kidney) and remaining alive long enough to advance scientific research capabilities. The purposes of this RFI are: 1) to gather feedback on the competition being considered, 2) to determine the level of interest in potentially competing in this challenge, and 3) to understand the applicability of the technology developed by the competition for other non-government applications. NASA welcomes replies to this RFI from all segments of industry, academia, and government, including associations, innovators, and enthusiasts. This RFI is for informational/planning purposes only and the Government will not be responsible for any cost associated with preparing information in support of this RFI. This RFI is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the government to enter into any agreement or other obligation, or to conduct a Tissue Engineering Challenge. This notice is issued in accordance with the NASA Prize Authority, 51 U.S.C.  20144. Responses may be made available for public review and should not include proprietary information. Submitted information will be shared within NASA and with contractor personnel associated with the NASA Centennial Challenges Program. All responses are for general access by government reviewers. For general information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program see: . The point of contact is Mr. Sam Ortega, Program Manager, Centennial Challenges Program, Marshall Space Flight Center.


Current NASA missions include sending humans to Mars, with continued exploration and expansion to other destinations within our solar system. These missions will need to sustain and maintain humans independently from an Earth supply chain or emergency return option. Initially, injured space travelers will need to be triaged and stabilized for a possible return to Earth much like Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units are used in military conflicts. A 3-D printed vascular tissue section would provide stabilization options, without the need to carry large quantities of medical supplies. The ability to generate, or print, 3-D vascular tissue would also benefit Earth-bound patients. Imagine using an undamaged host sample to make large skin sections to cover burn victims. Since the new skin is based on the patient’s own skin, there would be a low rejection rate. This technology could also benefit skin cancer patients.


The Tissue Engineering Challenge would be a first to demonstrate competition. Prize money would be awarded for the generation of vascularized, functional tissue in vitro. NASA is considering several parameters to determine the winners. The generated in vitro tissue would be judged for survival rate, blood perfusion, vascular density, thickness, cellular function, cellular types, and structural functional ability. The Prize awards may be split up to award the first team, or individual, to successfully demonstrate in vitro tissue would receive $350,000, and the second team would receive $150,000


Responses can be submitted using the attached response form, or the responder may use his/her own format. They should be submitted in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format and are limited to five (5) pages in length. Responses should include (as applicable): name, address, email address, and phone number of the respondent, business, or organization, with point of contact for business or organization. Feedback is sought from the public on the following aspects of the Challenge: Conceptual Design of the Competition 

    a) General Interest in Competing 

     – Are you interested and would you participate in this Challenge? If no, then what would make this challenge more appealing to you? 

     – Do you have suggestions to make the challenge/competitions more appealing or compelling to enter? 

    b) Competition Barriers 

     – Are there any barriers preventing you from competing or being able to develop the technology that should be addressed in the timelines, requirements and formulation of this challenge? 

    c) Areas for Technology Development 

     – Does this challenge incentivize technology development, or does it simply put a new spin on current, or nearly current, technology? 

     – Are there ways the competition could be changed to encourage more technology development? 

    d) Competition Awards 

     – NASA is considering up to $500,000 in prizes. How could the award structure best incentivize participation and technical progress? 

     – Is the prize money sufficient to incentivize potential competitors? If no, what award levels would incentivize participation? 

     Comment on the award scenario being considered. Are there alternative scenarios providing greater incentives to compete? 

    e) Competition Structure 

     – How much time would you require to successfully meet the described objectives? 

     – Is the competition format (first to demonstrate) suitable for this challenge? 

     – Do you have suggestions for additional qualitative or quantitative metrics for scoring competitors? 

    f) Competition Name  Other than Tissue Engineering Challenge, do you have another name suggestion for this competition? 


In the event that NASA does initiate this challenge, NASA will post a public notice in the Federal Register. At that time, all individuals or entities that wish to participate in the challenge must register as members of a team and enter into an agreement with the designated challenge management organization. No teams that include foreign nationals, who are not permanent residents of the United States, will be eligible to win prize money. The sole exception is for U.S. based educational institutions, which may have up to 50% foreign national students on their teams. No team members may be from countries listed on the NASA list of designated countries the current list of designated countries can be found at .

Teams cannot include any Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employer. This includes any U.S. Government organization or organization principally or substantially funded by the Federal Government, including Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, Government-owned, contractor operated (GOCO) facilities, and University Affiliated Research Centers. NASA and other federal agencies may work with and provide technical support to participating teams, as long as it is done on an equitable basis. That is, similar requests are dealt with in a similar fashion, be it access to facilities, testing, scientific consultation, or other services. This does not obligate NASA or other federal agencies to provide the support. These services may be at no cost, or on a cost reimbursable basis as determined by the subject federal agency in accordance with law and policy.

Registration and participation in a challenge does not entitle a participant to a NASA-funded prize. To be eligible to win a NASA-funded prize, the competitor must 1) register and comply with requirements as stated in the competition rules, and enter into a team agreement; 2) in the case of a private entity, be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating alone or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; and 3) not be a Federal entity or a Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.


Please submit comments no later than 23:59 Eastern Time Zone July 11, 2015, 45 days after RFI is announced, to Mr. Sam Ortega at e-mail address: . Use “Tissue Engineering Challenge” on the subject line. For general information on the NASA centennial Challenges Program see: . The point of contact is Mr. Sam Ortega, Program Manager, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Point of Contact

    Name: Melinda E. Swenson

    Title: Contracting Officer

    Phone: 256-961-7454

    Fax: 256-961-7524


SpaceRef staff editor.