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Finding “Big Ideas 2.0”: Identifying new directions for research.

The NSF 2026 Idea Machine!

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.

What's Next?

The National Science Foundation (NSF) received more than 800 idea submissions for the NSF 2026 Idea Machine competition. Entries were judged and 33 are still in the running for the grand prize. We thank everyone who submitted comments on the importance and potential impact of the ideas, and provided suggestions on how they could be improved. Your input will help our judges select the entries that will advance to the next stage of the competition. While the public comment phase has closed, you may still see the entries and video pitches at

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Entrants suggest new “Big Ideas” for future investment

Open to all

Public comments; blue-ribbon panel

Best ideas receive public recognition, cash prizes, and other awards


The NSF 2026 Idea Machine
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22314 USA