Small U.S.-based companies developing countermeasures to protect healthy tissue from the effects of radiation exposures may be eligible for a unique funding opportunity offered through the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). NSBRI’s Industry Forum is soliciting applications for its Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP). SMARTCAP grants are used to accelerate the development of products meeting a need on Earth as well as in space.

Physical or magnetic shielding from space radiation, particularly protecting against high energy galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and sudden solar particle events (SPEs), is not currently feasible. Hence, the development and validation of biological countermeasures are required to protect astronauts against the adverse effects of ionizing radiation during long-duration space travel. Ionizing radiation affects a plurality of organ systems. It is highly unlikely that one countermeasure will address all facets of radiation toxicity. Hence, applicants should focus on certain tissue-specific effects. Of particular interest are foods, pharmaceuticals, drinks or nutraceuticals that protect the gastrointestinal tract, the brain, the lung, the heart, and the immune and hematopoietic systems from insults due to radiation and other environmental influences.

“SMARTCAP 2016 offers non-dilutive grants to assist small companies with scientifically proven countermeasures to mitigate and/or protect healthy tissue from the adverse effects of radiation exposure. This funding typically broadens the reach of a company’s products, opens new market opportunities, while simultaneously addressing the significant challenges faced by humans living and working in space,” said Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI’s Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead. Having learned that the Earth market for radiation protectants is relatively small, making it difficult to raise sufficient capital to gain regulatory approvals, the BioShield4Mars grant should be used to support a new application of the countermeasure for an indication other than radiation protection in order to de-risk the investment. “We are looking for promising products that protect healthy tissues from radiation damage but also have other medical applications. This would ensure that the products are commercialized faster to benefit both astronauts and folks on Earth,” explained Dr. Donoviel. Examples of desirable project goals are proof-of-concept studies, pre-clinical or pilot clinical studies for the new indication, or reformulation and safety testing.

Funding is provided through the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP), administered by NSBRI’s Industry Forum. SMARTCAP grants are used to partner with the private sector to accelerate the development of products meeting a need in space as well as on Earth and advance the product’s commercialization. To be considered for a BioShield4Mars grant, applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. Central Time, November 30, 2015. The submission guidelines and additional information regarding SMARTCAP can be found at Grant recipients must secure a 100-percent match in funding. This leveraging of federal funding actively fosters public-private collaborations and partnerships.

Annidis Corporation and Equinox LLC were selected to receive SMARTCAP 2015 Vision4Mars grants in March 2015. Balance Goggles™, a simple and comfortable eyewear device designed to regulate intraocular pressure, is being developed by Equinox. The Annidis RHA™ is a multispectral ophthalmoscope with multi-image software processing that quickly and non-invasively images the retina with exceptional detail. ZetrOZ, Inc. of Trumbull, CT, a 2014 SMARTCAP grantee, is completing a clinical trial designed to evaluate the efficacy of its multi-hour ultrasound therapy device for back pain. To date, ten SMARTCAP grants have been awarded to small U.S.-based companies. Updates on companies who received grants from 2011 – 2015 may be found here: Updates-SMARTCAP Grantees.

NSBRI, a 501(c)(3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute’s science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States. For more information, please visit The Industry Forum engages the private sector to develop medical products for both space and Earth through commercialization activities and seed funding. Find out more at and follow the NSBRI Industry Forum on Twitter and Facebook.