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Biological and Chemical Technologies (BC)
SBIR Proposal Due Date: June 11th
STTR Proposal Due Date: June 13th


Primary Program Directors
Prakash G. Balan (pbalan@nsf.gov)
Rajesh Mehta (rmehta@nsf.gov)
Ruth Shuman (rshuman@nsf.gov)
Jesus Soriano (jsoriano@nsf.gov)

Administrative Information
The required one-page project summary should discuss the intellectual merit and broader impacts in two separate paragraphs (max. 200 words per paragraph) that specifically answer the following questions:

  • Paragraph 1: Intellectual merit. What is the problem to be solved? How will the problem be solved? What is the innovation in the proposed approach?
  • Paragraph 2: Broader impacts. Why is your solution better than competitive technologies? Who is going to buy your solution? Who are the other key players?

If the above questions are not addressed, the proposal will be returned without review.

Proposals must address the potential for commercialization of the innovation and how the project would ultimately lead to revenue generation. It is important that the proposed technology increase the competitive capability of industry, be responsive to societal needs, and be sensitive to solving "real" problems driven by critical market requirements. There is considerable overlap between the subtopics and proposers should pay attention to the areas indicated under each subtopic to assist the program in placing these proposals on review panels.

Letters of Support for the Technology 
Inclusion of letters of support for the technology within the proposal is strongly encouraged. Letters of support act as an indication of market validation for the proposed innovation and add significant credibility to the proposed effort. Letters of support should demonstrate that the company has initiated dialog with relevant stakeholders (potential customers, strategic partners, or investors) for the proposed innovation and that a real business opportunity exists, should the technology prove feasible. The letter(s) must contain affiliation and contact information of the signatory stakeholder.

Importance of Communication with Program Director 
A company considering a proposal submission is encouraged to communicate (via email) with the Program Director to help gauge the responsiveness to the solicitation (the Program Director is indicated at the end of each subtopic). When contacting the Program Director please provide a brief executive summary, not to exceed two pages, with background on: 1) company/team including experience with previous SBIR awards, 2) market opportunity, 3) technology/innovation, and 4) competition.

You may contact the Program Director via email at any time before the submission deadline. Note, however, that communication with the Program Director will become increasingly difficult as the deadline nears.

Environmental Technologies
Program Directors:
Dr. Prakash G. Balan, (pbalan@nsf.gov)
Dr. Rajesh Mehta, (rmehta@nsf.gov)

ET1. Energy Storage, Management and Use
Proposed projects might include new technology and approaches for direct conversion, storage, and use of renewable sources of energy for applications ranging from small scale (consumer level) to large grid scale energy applications. Projects may include new technology that leads to substantial enhancement in energy storage capacity, energy use efficiency, management and safety compared to currently available technologies.

ET2. Bioenergy and Renewable Fuels
Proposed projects might include new and novel methods to generate energy from marine, plant, algal, and microbial bio-energy sources; microbial fuel cells; hydrogen production; Innovations in high-yielding biomass crops for energy and chemicals production that do not compete with food supply.Proposed projects might involve development of new commercially viable renewable fuel options, including but are not limited to, drop-in replacements to petroleum-based transportation fuels that also reduce SOx, NOx, particulate, and/or other emissions that have a negative environmental impact. Proposals could also involve novel process technologies to directly convert carbon dioxide to methanol (and further derived industrial chemicals) from concentrated and dilute sources of carbon dioxide.

ET3. Water, Waste Treatment and Environmental Sustainability
Projects might present novel process and product technologies for commercially attractive energy efficient pollution prevention, treatment and remediation, water treatment (drinking water and wastewater) as well as novel technologies for energy efficient recycle and reuse of water and waste streams. Technologies proposed should be significant breakthroughs or enhancements relative to the current state of the art, seeking to address current and emerging industrial/municipal and agricultural needs and resulting in a reduced carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed projects could seek to develop solutions spanning a broad spectrum of operational scales including point of use, portable and fixed installations for municipal, industrial and agricultural waste, water and wastewater treatment, recycle and reuse. Projects could involve real-time sensing, monitoring and tracking technology of pollutants both currently regulated as well as newer emerging non-regulated contaminants that could have potentially broad and deleterious environmental, health and safety impact; Projects may involve technologies that focus on improving water capture, extraction, conservation, treatment and reuse in industrial, agricultural and municipal use.

ET4. Sustainable Energy Technologies
Proposed projects may include new critical devices, components, systems and materials in any of the following areas; energy harvesting and conversion from renewable resources, (including, for example, biological pathways); sustainable energy storage solutions; nature -inspired processes for sustainable energy solutions and carbon storage; reducing carbon and resource intensity of hydrocarbon extraction, energy conversion and use; new technologies that support smart infrastructures (such as materials, sensors, devices and control systems) to ensure efficient and sustainable energy transmission, distribution, monitoring and management; nature-inspired processes for sustainable energy generation; portable energy generation technologies that completely rely on renewable sources to allow supporting industrial energy needs in remote off-grid and underdeveloped economic regions.

ET5. Environmental Pollution Monitoring and Mitigation
Such applications include but are not limited to methods to reduce human ecological and environmental impacts, microbial contamination sensing and control, removal of toxic compounds for human and animal safety, novel bioremediation technologies, air pollution monitoring and mitigation to remove gaseous pollutants and particulates improving environmental compatibility and sustainability; pathogen and toxin diagnostics technologies; systems and products aimed at decreasing the negative impact of humans on the environment. In addition, proposed projects might include sustainable replacements to non-biodegradable and toxic agricultural chemicals; increase the efficiency of plant nutrient assimilation; methods to reduce and eliminate the use of non biodegradable pesticides, and develop sustainable and commercially viable agricultural technologies that reduce carbon foot print and minimize environmental and ecological impact compared to the current state of the art. Proposals may also include environmentally sustainable approaches to mining and extraction of rare earths, critical and strategic materials as well as oil and natural gas operations including but not limited to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technologies.

Chemical Technologies

Program Directors:
Dr. Prakash G. Balan, (pbalan@nsf.gov)
Dr. Rajesh Mehta, (rmehta@nsf.gov)

CT1. Bio-Based Chemicals and Renewable Chemical Process Technology
Novel chemical and biochemical processes built on sustainable, energy efficient, and waste minimization or waste elimination paradigms, from renewable biomass sources leading to the production of bio-based chemicals as competitive and sustainable alternatives to commercial chemicals derived from non-renewable sources; new or novel scalable green chemistry process technologies; processes that facilitate energy efficient chemical recycling and recovery for reuse from waste consumer and industrial products that would result in waste minimization, environmental pollution  and reduced carbon footprint.

CT2. Separation Technologies
Separation technologies and materials that enable ease in phase separations, reduce or eliminate the amount of waste generated and energy required in industrial manufacturing and production processes, and promote a sustainable environment with substantial improvements in energy efficiency and separation efficiency with applications such as, but not limited to, separations for multi-component solid, liquid and gas streams, inorganic and organic chemicals, fuels, new processes for critical and strategic metals and minerals extraction, novel purification processes; recycle and recovery by separation of higher value materials from waste, air pollution mitigation to remove gaseous pollutants, particulates and pathogens; novel separation techniques and media  as disruptive improvements to current established separation technologies, including but not limited to organic/inorganic membranes, porous media,  and structured materials in applications including drinking water, wastewater treatment, food, medical and pharmaceutical applications, industrial chemicals, and microelectronics applications to name a few.

CT3. Renewable Polymers
Proposals could include technologies related to novel polymeric materials designed to replace current materials that are produced in a non-sustainable manner, have hazardous by-products and/or, are not biodegradable. Examples may involve, but are not limited to, novel polymeric materials and coatings from recycled materials, polymers, plastics, additives, sealants, elastomers, textiles and coatings from a bio-based or renewable feed stock source, bioengineered plastics and biochemically produced polymers and precursors that lead to biodegradable polymers. 

CT4. Sustainable Chemical Process Technology
Chemically or biochemically (including catalytic/biocatalytic approaches) produce commodity, specialty chemicals and fine chemicals from renewable and abundant natural resources with substantially improved energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact compared to current approaches. New or novel green chemistry processes; processes that facilitate energy efficient recycling and chemicals recovery for reuse from waste consumer and industrial products that would result in waste minimization and reduced environmental pollution. Systems with novel homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts and biocatalysts, co-catalysts, promoters, and/or supports that are highly active, selective and long-lived compared to the state-of-the-art; sustainable catalysts that are based on environmentally friendly and non-toxic metals, non-metallics and earth-abundant elements; catalysts enabling simplification of complex multistep chemistries into fewer steps and ideally a single step, with byproduct elimination and substantial reductions in energy costs and capital equipment costs, that lead to superior process technology alternatives to existing technologies; cost effective catalytic (and bio-catalytic) technologies that lead to significant breakthrough improvements in process efficiency, productivity, energy and capital efficiency, waste minimization and environmental impact reduction in the production of commodity and specialty chemicals of current commercial importance or in emerging applications.

CT5. Novel Chemical Process Equipment and Technology
Innovative chemical process technology and equipment that lead to significant process simplification and enhanced energy efficiency leading to lower waste byproduct production and carbon footprint, systems that lead to substantially improved energy efficient interfacial transport of heat and mass enabling novel and superior technology improvements or new offerings to address a significant existing need; systems that facilitate the safe conduct of complex and hazardous chemistry through novel system designs that lead to capital efficient processes and possibly retrofittable designs into existing facilities; technology to greatly enhance process efficiency in the use of energy and raw materials compared to the current state of the art in the manufacture of industrial chemicals and materials; technologies that allow for new commercially attractive synthetic pathways that are currently uneconomical for the efficient and safer synthesis of hazardous commercially important and new emerging materials; systems that reduce complex multistep syntheses routes to significantly fewer steps resulting in process simplification, enhanced productivity, capital efficiency, safety and environmental impact; innovative industrial chemical production processes designed for zero waste generation.

CT6. Carbon dioxide and Methane to Industrial Chemicals
Proposals are solicited that seek to develop and commercialize processes for efficient carbon dioxide capture from concentrated industrial exhaust sources and pathways for its conversion to value added industrial chemicals and products resulting in net carbon sequestration on a life cycle analysis. Proposals of interest would also include those with catalytic process technologies for the conversion of methane (from natural gas, landfills, wastewater treatment etc) to industrial chemicals. Proposals of interest include those with novel catalytic process technologies to directly convert captured carbon dioxide to methanol through non syn-gas routes, as well as novel catalytic technologies to convert methane directly to methanol and hydrocarbons and value added chemicals (through non syn-gas routes). Approaches could include biochemical pathways.

CT7. Food Technology
Proposals of interest would involve the development of materials and methods and substitutes that meaningfully reduce dietary calories in processed foods; development of innovative food processing technologies, chemistry and formulations to influence energy intake to reduce and prevent obesity; proposals could be multidisciplinary in combating the issue of obesity presenting disruptive and transformational approaches to addressing this societal need.

CT8. Rare Earths and Critical Materials Technologies
Proposals of interest would involve the development of technologies of commercial relevance enabling development of new sources for rare earths, metals and critical materials of strategic national importance; improving the economics of existing sources; accelerating material development and deployment of alternatives to rare earths and critical materials currently in use; technologies and processes for more efficient use in manufacturing; recycling and reuse; new processes for critical and strategic metals and minerals extraction, novel purification processes; recycle and recovery by separation of rare earths and strategic materials from waste; Novel ways to reduce the amount of critical materials currently utilized in current and emerging technology products.

Biological Technologies

BT1. Sustainable Agricultural Biotechnology
New approaches for meeting the world's future nutritional needs. Target areas for improvement may include (but are not limited to) drought tolerance, improved nutritional value, enhanced disease resistance, and higher yield. Proposers should give consideration to technologies that enhance biodiversity, produce less carbon dioxide, and use less water and fertilizer. (Program Director: Ruth Shuman; rshuman@nsf.gov).

BT2. Biosensors
Biosensors are sensors that contain a biologically-based sensing element. Proposed projects might include but are not limited to real-time sensors, microbial component-based sensors, sensors for monitoring fluxes of metabolites, nanobiotechnology-based sensors, biomedical sensors, and micro- or nanofluidic-based sensors. Application areas of interest may include (but are not limited to) toxicity testing, food safety, drug evaluation, environmental monitoring, and bio-prospecting. Other types of sensors should refer to the EI topic.  (Program Director: Ruth Shuman; rshuman@nsf.gov)

BT3. Life Sciences Research Tools
Developing novel technologies that will advance scientific research across the biological spectrum. This may include enabling technologies for drug discovery (high-throughput screening assays and platforms, and high-content screening assays and platforms; novel high-content screening technologies based on characterization of physical properties of cells are of high interest). Proposals should focus primarily on the development of innovative consumables, processes, and services where there is significant market opportunity. (Program Director: Ruth Shuman; rshuman@nsf.gov)

BT4. Bioinstrumentation
The development of technology for novel or improved instrumentation primarily for biological research applications. (Program Directors: Ruth Shuman; (rshuman@nsf.gov) and Juan Figueroa; (jfiguero@nsf.gov)

BT5. Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering
Using synthetic biology to engineer novel biologically-based (or inspired) functions that do not exist in nature. Proposed projects may include creating new manufacturing capability by designing microorganisms, plants, and cell-free systems for the production of novel chemicals and biomolecules. Applications may include (but is not limited to) health-care products, food ingredients, chemicals, and other biomaterials such as enzymes and bio-based polymers. (Program Director: Ruth Shuman; rshuman@nsf.gov)

BT6. Fermentation and Cell Culture Technologies
Proposed projects might include but are not limited to novel or improved microbial fermentation or mammalian and plant cell culture technologies, bioreactors, processes, scale-up, development of expression platforms, and purification. (Program Director: Ruth Shuman; rshuman@nsf.gov)

BT7. Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Developing and applying computationally intensive techniques (e.g., pattern recognition data mining, machine learning algorithms, and visualization) and may include but are not limited to sequence alignment, gene finding, genome assembly, drug design, drug discovery, protein structure alignment, protein structure prediction, prediction of gene expression and protein-protein interactions, genome-wide association studies and the modeling of evolution. Proposed projects might include the creation and advancement of databases, algorithms, computational and statistical techniques and theory to solve problems arising from the management and analysis of biological data. (Program Director: Ruth Shuman; rshuman@nsf.gov)

Biomedical Technologies

BM1. Smart Healthcare
Proposed projects may include devices, components, systems, algorithms, networks, applications or services to enable the transformation of healthcare from indemnity-based, reactive and clinic-centered to preventive, proactive, evidence-based, person-centered and cost-efficient. Examples of projects include mobile health; telemedicine; methods and tools to evaluate the safety, effectiveness, efficiency and clinical outcomes of mobile health applications; enabling the use and the harmonization of electronic health records (EHRs) while empowering and protecting patients/consumers, citizen-centered health information technologies, novel tools for the planning, design, implementation and management of health information networks; the reduction of medical errors, operational inefficiencies and resulting adverse events; and connecting health care professionals for collaborative medicine networks. (Program Directors:  Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov; and Murali Nair: mnair@nsf.gov)

BM2. Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Proposed projects must include new processing or manufacturing devices, components and systems that will improve the efficiency, competitiveness and output of the nation's pharmaceutical manufacturing sector; that will reduce the cost, risk and time-to-market of new pre-clinical and clinical-stage drugs and biological products; or that address major market opportunities in the developing world. Proposed projects may include transformative approaches and methods in manufacturing operations, project management, process development, process engineering, analytical development or quality control and assurance. Proposals are strongly encouraged to address the net preservation and extension of natural resources, a reduction in the use or release of toxic or harmful constituents, the use of less extreme temperatures or conditions, or a reduction in the production of waste. (Program Directors: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov; and Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov)

BM3. Materials for Biomedical Applications
Proposed projects may include biological materials, biomimetic, bioinspired, bioenabled materials and synthetic materials, all intended for biological, medical, veterinary or healthcare applications. Examples of proposals may include, but are not limited to: the synthesis, purification, functionalization, characterization, development, validation, processing, scale up and manufacturing of biomaterials. novel polymeric materials, polymers, plastics, additives, sealants, elastomers, textiles, alloys, ceramic and composite biomaterials,, improved implants; coatings for therapeutic applications; or nanomaterials. Materials not intended for biological, medical, veterinary or healthcare applications must refer to the NM or CT topics. (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

BM4. Diagnostic Assays and Platforms
Proposed projects should focus on transformational diagnostic technologies. Proposed projects may include but are not limited to non- or minimally-invasive disease diagnosis, detection and monitoring, software-based diagnostic methods, biomarker development, disease-specific assays, personalized medicine, flexible implantable devices and point-of-care testing for diseases. (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

BM5. Drug Delivery
Proposed projects might include but are not limited to new platforms, chemical formulations, excipients, devices or methodology for the delivery of drugs or biological products. (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

BM6. Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine
Proposed projects may include enabling engineering and manufacturing approaches, technologies and systems that will advance the research, development, quality control and production of artificial tissues and their derivatives in scientific, therapeutic or commercial applications. Proposed projects may also include novel methods or technologies to replace or regenerate damaged or diseased animal or human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish their normal function (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

BM7. Biomedical Engineering
Using engineering approaches to develop transformative methods and technologies that will solve problems in medicine. Proposed projects may include devices and systems that provide new strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of health conditions; advance end of life or palliative care; reduce drug counterfeiting; and enable new and more efficient risk-management methods to better address safety issues of drugs and medical devices; and sensors, actuators and intelligent systems for surgical robotics. Proposers are encouraged to form an interdisciplinary team that includes relevant engineering as well as biology/health related expertise. (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

BM8. Biomechanics
Developing novel motion or structural biomechanic technologies for the improvement of human motion. Systems that incorporate sensory inputs and computational intelligence ranging from internal and external sensors, and cognitive orthotics are strongly encouraged. Proposers are encouraged to form interdisciplinary teams that include relevant engineering, computational as well as biology/health related expertise. (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

BM9. Medical Imaging Technologies
Proposed projects might include but are not limited to novel or improved imaging technologies and/or imaging agents to advance the diagnosis and treatment of disease and improve prognosis. (Program Director: Jesus Soriano; jsoriano@nsf.gov)

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