NSF invites the community to help set the Foundation’s long term STEM research and education agenda by participating in the NSF 2026 Idea Machine, a prize competition to identify new directions for future research. Key points about the Idea Machine:
- Entrants suggest “grand challenge” questions for future research, first in narrative form and then a subset via video pitches.
- The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on entries.
- Authors of the best ideas will receive public recognition and/or cash prizes
- See the attached Powerpoint and visit the website for more details.
Steps of the Idea Machine Process:
- The competition opens for on-line submission of ideas.
- NSF staff will do the initial judging to down-select to approximately 30 entries.
- NSF will invite the authors of those 30 entries to submit video pitches that will be posted on line, along with their original narrative entries.
- The public will be invited to comment. Then all the materials will get packaged, NSF staff will provide some analysis.
- A Blue-Ribbon Panel of external judges will review all the materials and down-select to ~12 entries for remote interviews.
- The panel conducts the interviews, then recommends ~6 entries to NSF for further consideration.
- NSF staff will add analysis.
- NSF leadership will make the final selection of 2-4 winning entries.
- Authors of winning entries will receive cash prizes and public recognition.
- NSF will use winning entry ideas to identify future funding opportunities – within existing programs or by developing new ones.
On behalf of,
Dr. Loretta Moore
Section Head, NSF EPSCoR