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 of up to $26,000 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). Individuals or teams of up to five may enter. Contestants whose entries are selected for Stage 2 will be invited to elaborate on their Big Ideas through the submission of brief visual presentations.

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