Canadian Space Agency

Deep Space Food Challenge

Back to all challenges
challenge banner

The Challenge

The 2019 Canadian Space Strategy includes an important element associated with exploring "how to help improve the accessibility of food across Canada, including the North, with the aim of, one day, taking these lessons learned to help astronauts grow food off Earth". The drive to develop space technology for low mass, low energy and low waste systems is directly applicable to the goal of harnessing space to solve everyday challenges for Canadians, in particular for Canada's northern and remote communities.

The food system will need to be an integrated solution that:

  • Provides all daily nutritional needs;
  • Provides a variety of palatable and safe food choices;
  • Enables acceptable, safe, and quick preparation methods; and
  • Limits resource requirements with no dependency on direct and periodic resupply from Earth over durations increasing from months to years.

The Challenge Statement

Create novel food production technologies or systems that require minimal inputs and maximize safe, nutritious, and palatable food outputs for long-duration space missions, and which have potential to benefit people on Earth.

Objectives

CSA is calling on Canadian innovators to submit a concept application for solutions that:

  1. Help fill food gaps for a three-year round-trip mission with no resupply;
  2. Feed a crew of four (4);
  3. Improve the accessibility of food on Earth, in particular, via production directly in urban centres and in remote and harsh environments;
  4. Achieve the greatest amount of food output with minimal inputs and minimal waste; and
  5. Create a variety of palatable, nutritious, and safe foods that require little processing time for crew members.

This Challenge seeks to incentivize teams to develop novel technologies, systems and/or approaches for food production that need not meet the full nutritional requirements of future crews, but can contribute significantly to, and integrate with, a comprehensive food system.

Assessment Criteria

The assessment of solutions will be based on the following overall and performance criteria:

  • A food production technology that is innovative, novel, and sustainable with a feasible scenario for the potential technical use of the solution within terrestrial food systems.
  • Scientific, technical merit, and feasibility of the design.
  • Acceptability of the food production process and acceptability/palatability of the resulting food products.
  • Safety of the food production process, including environmental safety, and safety of the resulting food products, including safety for human consumption.
  • Resource requirements of the food production process (inputs); quantity of food outputs in relation to the inputs and waste; and nutritional quality of the resulting food products.
  • Reliability/Stability of the inputs and outputs; reliability of the technology with less than 10% loss of functionality or food production.

For more information on the judging criteria, please see the Applicant Guide.

Key Dates for the Challenge:

  • Phase 1: Design Report – Challenge is launched, and application intake is from January 12, 2021 until July 30, 2021. Up to 10 Canadian Semi-Finalists with the most promising Design Report detailing the plans for their novel food production system will receive CAD $30,000 each in Fall 2021, and move automatically on to Phase 2
  • Phase 2: Kitchen Demonstration – Beginning in Fall 2021, Semi-Finalists will build a food production technology prototype (equivalent to a TRL 4Footnote 1) and have the prototype take part in a Kitchen-Level demonstration at an appropriate facility. Teams would also provide samples of food outputs (e.g., tangible nutritional products) from the prototype. Up to four (4) Canadian Semi-Finalists with the best scores from Phase 2 will receive CAD $100,000 each in Fall 2022 and will move on to become Phase 3 Finalists.
    Note: New interested Applicants may be able to apply and participate directly in Phase 2. Further details will be provided prior to the launch of Phase 2.
  • Phase 3: Full System Demonstration – Finalists at this phase will grow and scale up their solutions in Canada over a 12 to 18-month period starting in Fall 2022. One Finalist with the most impressive results from Phase 3 will receive CAD $380,000 in Spring 2024 and become the Canadian Grand Prize Winner for The Deep Space Food Challenge.

Note: The number of winners and Canadian prize amounts may vary depending on the applications received. For each phase, prize amounts will not be less than the amount per winner indicated above.

Who Can Apply to the Challenge?

The Deep Space Food Challenge is open to for-profit or not-for-profit organizations and individuals registered to do business in Canada. Specifically, you can apply if you are:

  • Businesses or other for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Not-for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Indigenous organizations and groups located in Canada;
  • Post-secondary/academic institutions located in Canada; and
  • Individuals or group of individuals based in Canada.

Individuals or groups of individuals are encouraged to submit an application to the Challenge, but in order to be eligible to receive prizes, they will be required to establish a Canadian legal entity (such as a corporation or a not-for-profit organization) capable of entering into binding agreements in Canada.

Interested U.S. and Other International Applicants may refer to the deepspacefoodchallenge.org website for more information on how to register and apply to the Challenge.

Please review the Applicant Guide in detail to confirm your eligibility before preparing and submitting your concept application.

Challenge details

Who can apply?

  • Businesses or other for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Not-for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Indigenous organizations and groups located in Canada;
  • Post-secondary/academic institutions located in Canada; and
  • Individuals or groups of individuals based in Canada.

Individuals or groups of individuals are encouraged to submit an application to the challenge, but in order to be eligible to receive prizes, they will be required to establish a Canadian legal entity (such as a corporation or a not-for-profit organization) capable of entering into binding agreements in Canada.

Key Dates

  • Phase 1 – Design Report Deadline: July 30, 2021
  • Up to 10 Semi-Finalists Announced: Fall 2021
  • Phase 2 – Kitchen Demonstration Deadline: Summer 2022
  • Up to 4 Finalists Announced: Fall 2022
  • Phase 3 – Full System Demonstration Deadline: Late Fall 2023/Early Winter 2024
  • Canadian Grand Prize Winner Announced: Spring 2024

Prizes

  • Up to 10 Prizes of CAD $30,000 open to all eligible innovators submitting a Phase 1 concept application.
  • Up to 4 Prizes of CAD $100,000 open to all Semi-Finalists participating in Phase 2.
  • Grand Prize of CAD $380,000 open to all Finalists participating in Phase 3.

Note: The number of winners and prize amounts may vary depending on the applications received. For each phase, prize amounts will not be less than the amount per winner indicated above.