The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) Industry Forum launched SMARTCAP-Accel, a grant funding program to help small U.S. based companies who are in or have graduated from business accelerators develop products for spaceflight.
The NSBRI Industry Forum was established to accelerate the development and commercialization of products to be used in space and on Earth. NSBRI is a 501(c) 3 organization funded by NASA and operates to mitigate health risks related to long duration spaceflights and then apply these discoveries to improve similar conditions on Earth.
NSBRI is partnering with prominent business accelerators in biotechnology, health, and health IT sectors to identify the best candidates capable of identifying an innovative solution to healthcare challenges inherent to spaceflight.
The SMARTCAP-Accel program recently launched in Louisville Kentucky works with project budgets ranging from $10,000 to $200,000. However, all SMARTCAP-Accel grants must be matched with new investments from another funding source. Successful SMARTCAP-Accel applications need to be aimed at developing products that will safeguard the health of humans working in space as well as fulfill unmet medical needs on Earth.
The constraints on healthcare 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.
The health risks or medical care challenges related to space travel are wide-ranging and include:
- Exposure to ionizing radiation,
- Muscle and bone loss
- Intracranial hypertension and related visual impairment
- Renal stone formation
- Sleep loss
- Psychiatric and behavioral issues associated with isolation and confinement
- Routine health surveillance
- Emergency and critical care
- Clinical decision support for autonomous care