A joint agency SBIR Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Phase 1 was released on September 14th to encourage small business firms to participate in the development of robotics technologies. The agencies participating in the announcement include NIH, DOD, NSF, USDA and DHS.
The market for robotics is growing rapidly and now spans many diverse industries including military, medicine, healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, and consumer products. Robotics technology is reaching a “tipping point” and is poised for explosive growth because of improvements in core technologies such as microprocessors, sensors, and algorithms. Also robotics technology has the potential to make a tremendous contribution to help the elderly and disabled.
NIH supports developing robotic applications to help in surgery, health interventions, prostheses, rehabilitation, behavioral therapy, and for personalized care and wellness health promotions. The most significant challenges will be to address safety issues, especially for applications to be used in home and surgical settings. For home care, NIH is interested in helping caregivers manage chronic heart, lung, or blood diseases.
A few of the areas where NIH is emphasizing their need for robotic assistive devices are with neurological disorders or with muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries, and with strokes.
NIH is also looking for surgical tools and techniques. Examples of relevant technologies are robotic assist devices that enable surgeons to transcend the physical limitations of the human hand and eye, minimally invasive robotic surgery, miniaturized surgical devices for robotic surgery, robotically assisted surgical systems, the integration of imaging and interventional modalities in robotic surgical procedures, and ocular surgery. NIH is seeking implantable wireless technology to use in medical devices to monitor and diagnose via telehealth and mHealth.
The FOA title is “Robotics Technology Development and Deployment” (RTD2 (R43). For more information, go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-10-279.html. The earliest submission date is November 20, 2010 and all applications are due by December 20, 2010.