Well, it seems Elon Musk is no longer alone in non-governmental entities who are planning to colonize Mars. A new group called MarsPolar which includes specialists from Russia, the U.S. United Arab Emirates, Poland, and Ukraine plans to begin colonizing Mars by 2029. They plan to locate their colony on Mars' north pole because that's where the water is, in the form of an ice cap. This will provide the most important resource for the colony from which they will produce drinking water, oxygen for breathing, food, and fuel. The MarsPolar team believes that Mars' polar region is the best place to look for martian life. "Life begins where the water exists," the team says.
The basic plan is to send most of the things needed to establish the colony: the habitats, the vehicles, oxygen generators, food, and other supplies ahead of time, to land on Mars robotically, and then send 4-6 colonists to the colony every two years, when Mars and Earth are the closest together. Though MarsPolar's plan won't have SpaceX's "you're not coming back" proviso for its colonists, MarsPolar's plan is only a little bit better: their colonists will be able to come back to Earth, but not for ten years.
Interestingly, MarsPolar isn't exactly competing with SpaceX, in fact they would like to use their Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket to launch their mission and SpaceX's Red Dragon spacecraft to deliver cargo and crews to Mars.
The thing is, as long as they can do it robotically, it's actually far more advantageous to not have humans around, consuming oxygen and other stores while MarsPolar is landing things like habitats, supplies and an oxygen generator, but that makes one part of MarsPolar's plan a linchpin: a robotic rover. The rover will be responsible for doing a lot of tasks in preparation for the human colonists' arrival. If all goes well, by the time the humans get there the rover will have already set up the habitats, complete with a breathable atmosphere inside provided by the oxygen generator which will have been running for some time.
So, in keeping with NASA's recent remaking of itself as a facilitator instead of a vertical integrator, MarsPolar is holding a competition to decide who will build the rover for it's colonization mission. "We want to give a chance to every company that will apply," says Roman Juranek, the MarsPolar's Director of Communications for Poland. "I myself would like to see some Polish companies, because I'm aware of our [Poland's] great designers, and students are constructing outstanding rovers, successfully competing in Mars analog contests. So there are no obstacles to build another successful one that will reach the Red Planet this time."
If you're interested in being one of the colonists, by the way, you can go to the MarsPolar website. The application is on line. All you have to do is fill it out, pass the tests, and be ready to not return to Earth for ten years.