The NSF 2026 Idea Machine is a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering. Participants can earn prizes and receive public recognition by suggesting the pressing research questions that need to be answered in the coming decade, the next set of “Big Ideas” for future investment by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It's an opportunity for researchers, the public, and other interested stakeholders to contribute to NSF's mission to support basic research and enable new discoveries that drive the U.S. economy, enhance national security, and advance knowledge to sustain the country's global leadership in science and engineering.
A Big Idea:
- is a compelling research challenge in fundamental STEM or STEM education that is large in scope, innovative in character, and requires a long-term commitment (i.e., 10 years or more) to address
- has (a) worthwhile objective(s), is ambitious and challenging, and may require a paradigm shift in our thinking
- requires high risk/high reward, transformative exploration at the frontiers of research in science, engineering, and STEM learning
- will attract creative contributions from many researchers
- crosses traditional scientific boundaries, fills recognized gaps, or takes advantage of new opportunities, and it does not fit within the current programs of any particular NSF directorate or division
- Progress toward addressing it would have significant societal and scientific impact that would benefit many stakeholders, both inside and outside the research community
The challenge will follow four stages:
- Big Idea Development and Submission
- Video Pitches and Public Comment
- Blue-Ribbon Panel Virtual Interviews
- Selection of Winners and Awarding of Prizes
Submissions are being accepted now through October 26, 2018.
Click here to visit the official challenge website.
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