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Biological Technologies (BT)

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Biological Technologies (BT)

Pre-Submission Feedback
You may communicate with the Program Director, Ruth Shuman (, to gauge if a project meets the program's intellectual merit and commercial impact criteria. Send a 1-2 page executive summary by e-mail discussing the following aspects of the project: 1) The company and team; 2) the market opportunity, value proposition, and customers; 3) the core technology and innovation; and 4) the competition. Please note that responsiveness will likely be limited in the 2 weeks leading up to the solicitation deadline.

Click here for examples of recently funded Phase I projects in this portfolio.

BT1. Agricultural and Food Safety Biotechnology
New approaches for meeting the world's future nutritional needs that involve the development of new technology that is primarily based in the biotechnology area. For Plant Biotechnology, 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. For Animal Biotechnology, which includes aquaculture, the target emphasis may include (but is not limited to) animal health and productivity, and reducing environmental impacts. For Food Safety Biotechnology, this may include handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness, as well as origins of food including the practices relating to food tracking, hygiene, additives, and certification systems.

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 Sensors in the EW topic.

BT3. Life Sciences Research Tools
Developing novel technologies that will advance scientific research across the biological spectrum. The life sciences area includes tools and reagents for genomics, proteomics, cell biology, epigenetics, metabolomics, stem cells, and antibodies and related areas. 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. Bioinstruments should refer to BT4; computational tools should refer to BT7 (see below).

BT4. Bioinstrumentation
The development of technology for novel or improved instrumentation primarily for biological research applications. This may include analytical, automation, and monitoring devices, which covers but is not limited to virtual instruments, biosensing devices, microfluidics, etc. In addition, this may include low cost instruments for science and engineering that are aimed at students or others in working in low resource settings.

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 are not limited to) health-care products, food ingredients, chemicals, and other biomaterials such as enzymes and bio-based polymers.

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. This may include technology development for pilot and large scale manufacturing of biopharmaceutical and other products.

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.

BT8. Advanced Biomanufacturing
The aim of this new area is to standardize the processes for cell-based therapies, especially stem cell therapies, regenerative medicine, and immunotherapies to bring down costs and to make the manufacturing processes more reproducible, scalable, efficient, and sustainable. This may include the development and implementation of advanced technologies in cell processing, cell preservation, distribution, and handling as well as process monitoring and quality control. Novel technologies also may address screening and selection methods, culture media advances, cell expansion, modification and differentiation methods, and separation methods.

BT9. Advanced technologies for functional genomics in organismal systems
The aim of this program is to support the development of tools, reagents and resources for emerging plant and animal model systems. These products are needed to expedite the identification of genes that control development, behavior and physiology. Projects of interest include high through-put phenotyping, technologies and tools to enable the genetic manipulation of novel species, strategies for identifying causative genes, and the development of new functional assay systems.

BT10. (Formerly BM3). Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Proposed projects may include enabling bioengineering and biomanufacturing technologies and systems that will advance the research, development, quality control, and production of artificial tissues and their derivatives in scientific, therapeutic, and/or commercial applications. Proposed projects also may include novel methods or technologies for cell and tissue engineering to replace or regenerate damaged or diseased cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish their normal function. This may include the development of manufacturing technology for tissue engineering, including the construction of whole human tissues and organs for drug screening and transplants, as well as cell-based and personalized therapies, or regenerative medicine, that use cells as part of patches and implants.