NASA helps entrepreneurs reach for stars

Chris Shiver's NASA-worthy business idea was born out of a near-disaster at his home in Austin.

A flood came close to destroying his treasured scrapbooks and photos captured through 30 years of traveling the world. Though the crisis was averted, the threat set him on a years-long mission to design a storage container that could withstand any disaster.

"The bigger the pain, the bigger the opportunity," he thought at the time. That wouldn't be far from the truth. Three years ago, Shiver found himself in the daunting process of licensing intellectual property from NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.

He hoped to test a theory: that the materials strong enough to protect the astronauts in a space shuttle could be fashioned into a box resistant to extreme heat and water. But bureaucracy slowed him down; NASA didn't have a great way of vetting entrepreneurial ideas or an easy process to co-develop innovative products with outside industry.

But then the stars began to align for Shiver.

Late in 2012, the Houston Technology Center, a popular Houston start-up incubator, opened a satellite campus at the JSC for entrepreneurs with hopes of partnering with NASA. Texas classified the JSC as a research institution, providing state funding to entrepreneurs who conduct research with NASA's engineers.

Read the full article on USA Today!