The NSBRI Industry Forum has initiated a new grant funding program for small, U.S.-based companies who are in, or have graduated from, business accelerators. NSBRI is partnering with prominent business accelerators in the biotechnology, health and health-IT sectors to identify the best and brightest candidates for the program, which seeks innovative solutions to the health care challenges inherent to spaceflight. Companies, in partnership with sponsoring accelerators, can submit applications for the SMARTCAP-Accel program from June 11, 2013 through July 22, 2013, online at www.smartcap.org.
Launched today at a joint media event with the Office of Economic Growth and Innovation of the City of Louisville, Kentucky, and its new accelerator XLerateHealth, the SMARTCAP-Accel program marks an expansion of NSBRI’s already highly successful SMARTCAP program. Like the original program, SMARTCAP-Accel will offer small U.S. companies the opportunity to receive non-dilutive project funding and collaboration opportunities with NSBRI and its research partners.
Project budgets ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 will be considered, but to maximize program funds all SMARTCAP-Accel grant must be matched with new investments from another funding source.
Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI’s Industry Forum Lead, believes that this program, a partnership between government, academia and industry, will advance products in a more cost-efficient and timely manner. “Administering healthcare in space requires innovative medical solutions that may stall in the laboratory due to insufficient funding and a clear path to overcome regulatory hurdles,” Donoviel explains. “The resources required to move a novel technology from ‘bench to bedside’ for space and Earth are significant and require expertise in science, medicine, engineering, and business,” she added. “For all these reasons, it is critical that government, universities, and the private sector partner to develop promising technologies that meet a medical need for spaceflight and for Earth and that’s what we are doing with SMARTCAP-Accel.”
According to Dr. Ted Smith, Chief of Economic Growth and Innovation for the City of Louisville and a member of the NSBRI Industry Forum Steering Council, the program helps open up new thinking in a way that will benefit tax-payers. “The SMARTCAP program harnesses the creative energy in innovators and entrepreneurs out there that would never respond to a life sciences procurement opportunity,” remarked Smith. “Essentially, the SMARTCAP and SMARTCAP-Accel programs are crowd-sourced problem solving, and that is probably the most tax-efficient thing we can do to generate effective, innovative solutions.” He added, “Accelerators have become a major pathway for entrepreneurs to obtain capital and mentorship. These accelerators see hundreds of applications each cycle, and vet the opportunities and NSBRI benefits from that pipeline of entrepreneurial refinement.”
Successful SMARTCAP-Accel applications will be aimed at developing products that can better safeguard the health of humans working in space, as well as fulfill unmet medical needs on Earth.
The constraints on health care in space are similar to those experienced in remote or under-resourced regions on Earth. Technology solutions must be largely non-invasive, user-friendly for non-expert operators, compact, lightweight, and consume minimal power, water or other resources. IT solutions must stand alone and not require internet connectivity.
“For these reasons, we have seen time and time again that products developed for space possess unique features that lead to commercial advantages on Earth,” Dr. Donoviel explained.
The human health risks or medical care challenges related to space travel are wide ranging. They include:
Exposure to ionizing radiation;
Muscle and bone loss, due to microgravity;
Intracranial hypertension and related visual impairment;
Renal stone formation;
Sleep loss and circadian disruption;
Psychiatric/behavioral issues associated with isolation and confinement;
Routine health surveillance;
Emergency/critical care; and
Clinical decision support for autonomous care
Accelerators: U.S. based accelerators that have directly funded companies within the past 12 months may nominate up to two applicants that have already been selected for support by the accelerator.
Nominees: Nominated companies must either be currently receiving support from the accelerator or must have successfully exited the accelerator. To be considered, companies must be based in the U.S., have 500 or fewer employees, and be one of up to two companies sponsored by a qualifying accelerator.
Projects: A proposed project should meet at least one key milestone along the path to product commercialization. Examples of desirable projects include:
Proof of concept studies;
Refinement of prototypes;
NSBRI will work with successful candidates to develop a work plan that is aligned with both the terrestrial and space applications of the product.
The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, NSBRI, is a 501(c)3 organization funded by NASA. Its mission is to lead a national program to mitigate the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and to apply the discoveries to improve life on Earth. The Institute’s science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States.
About NSBRI Industry Forum
The NSBRI Industry Forum was established to accelerate the development and commercialization of products to enhance health in space and on Earth.
About the Office of Economic Growth and Innovation of the City of Louisville, Kentucky
The Office of Economic Growth and Innovation fosters a robust business climate, by promoting job creation, helping business navigate potential financing, meeting workforce needs, creating amenities within our region, and balancing growth by enhancing the environment, in order to improve the quality of life in Louisville Metro.