The Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has joined NASA iTech in launching a competition to identify transformational energy technologies. The groups challenge the nation's top entrepreneurs and researchers to develop innovations that will improve energy generation, storage and distribution to the benefit of both space exploration and life on Earth. 

NASA's iTech initiative is a yearlong effort to find innovative ideas that address challenges and will fill gaps in five critical areas identified by NASA as having a potential impact on future exploration. The competition typically focuses on artificial intelligence, augmented reality advancement, autonomy, high-performance computing and medical breakthroughs. This energy cycle falls under the administration's x-factor innovations - solutions for unspecified challenges. 

"Although this is not a typical cycle, NASA iTech has proven to be a successful public-private partnership model for stimulating the development of groundbreaking technologies, without the government being the early investor," said Kira Blackwell, NASA iTech program executive. "Previous entrants to NASA iTech have already raised more than $50 million in private investment funds."

The technology themes include fuel cells, high-energy density batteries, solar power, small fission and smart grids. ARPA-E will support the competition and judging process by lending its expertise of energy technologies.

"ARPA-E is thrilled to partner with NASA for this iTech competition and help bring the future of energy technology to space," said ARPA-E Principal Deputy Director Chris Fall. "ARPA-E continually seeks to reinvent what's possible, and we're engaging our unmatched American energy innovation community to support this exciting competition." 

Inventors and entrepreneurs are asked to submit concepts via the NASA iTech website. White papers will be accepted through April 29. Ten finalists will advance to present their ideas at the 2018 NASA iTech Cycle II Forum this June in New York City. 

"The finalists have an opportunity to present their technologies and engage with NASA and ARPA-E subject matter experts, potential investors and industry partners," said Blackwell.

NASA iTech is an initiative sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia.