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Development of Smart Plate Technology

Microtitre plates are nearly ubiquitous in many life sciences laboratory settings, used as a standard tool to act as the vessel in which a wide variety of experiment types are performed.  There are a variety of key parameters that dictate the application a particular plate type will be used for, such as the number of wells present on a plate, the color of the plate depending upon the detection method to be used, the material the plate is made from to ideally be as chemically inert as possible, the surface treatment or coating of the wells within a plate geared towards a specific experiment type and other parameters for more specialty plate types.
One nearly universal parameter regardless of plate type is that these plates are typically assumed to be a consumable product, used once and then discarded, making them in effect a disposable item.  Depending on the laboratory in question, it is not uncommon for thousands if not tens of thousands of these plates to be consumed and discarded within a single year.  Given the disposable nature of these parts, they have been manufactured with the idea that each plate will be a consumable product, and are typically made out of a variety of polymers using injection molding techniques, most commonly polystyrene and polypropylene.  Given the consumable nature of the product and the materials used to manufacturer them on a large scale at low cost, the typical features that distinguish one plate from another typically come down to the physical properties of the materials the plates are made of and any additional additives to them, potentially limiting the plate from being anything more than a vessel for an experiment.
Over the last ten years, High-Throughput Experimental Sciences (High-Throughput Screening) have evolved at a very rapid pace- mostly enabled by ever more sensitive assay constructs, and the evolution of detection and miniaturization schemes. Ten years ago a typical high-throughput assay would have 2-3 reagent constituents and a single absorbance or fluorescence-based readout. Today, modern screening facilities are commonly running very high-content, very data rich assays with optical microscopy- based readouts.  These assays produce terabytes of data leading to information that is uncovering cellular behavior characteristics never before measured. These progressive steps have far out-paced the evolution of the microplate?as a ?dumb? article made of plastic. The microplate component of the ?system? needs to be significantly updated in its? ability to harvest data, monitor environmental and atmospheric conditions, and report in real time any micro-climate variances-which are critical systemic contributors to cell performance.
Main Requirements:
The purpose of this project is to treat a microtitre plate not as a disposable product meant to act as a vessel for one experiment, but instead to potentially be a resource that can be used multiple times against a variety of different experiments.  Instead of limiting these plates to only being a variety of plastics with a lifespan of one use, if different materials and manufacturing techniques were utilized it could greatly impact what a plate could be used for.  Imagining the plate as being used for a variety of monitor and control applications be built directly into the plate, such as temperature, relative humidity, CO2 and O2 levels etc., instead of relying on external pieces of instrumentation to perform these measurements.
The title of this solicitation is ‘Smart Plate’ in reference to idea of the Smart Phone; once a platform was built to create a phone that could perform a variety of functions as opposed to simply one a huge amount of innovative ideas sprang forth.  The goal of this SBIR solicitation is to do the same, to fundamentally transform the idea of a microtitre plate from being a single use vessel for an experiment to nearly becoming an instrument itself which could provide more data about the samples under test to actually providing measurements in the plate itself.  A key goal tied to this is to break the idea of a plate being completely disposable and instead treating each plate as a resource that can be used many times.
One important point of this solicitation is that we are NOT looking for the creation of a plate that only works with a specific piece of instrumentation; the goal is a feature rich plate that can be used in a variety of existing instrumentation.
Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables:
?       Develop a prototype that has the following features:
?       Adheres as closely as possible to current ANSI/SLAS Microplate Standards
?  ANSI/SLAS 1-2004 (R2012) Microplates ? Footprint Dimensions (formerly ANSI/SBS 1-2004)
?  ANSI/SLAS 2-2004 (R2012) Microplates ? Height Dimensions (formerly ANSI/SBS 2-2004)
?  ANSI/SLAS 3-2004 (R2012) Microplates ? Bottom Outside Flange Dimensions (formerly ANSI/SBS 3-2004)
?  ANSI/SLAS 4-2004 (R2012) Microplates ? Well Positions (formerly ANSI/SBS 4-2004)
?       The plate should provide the ability to work with different well types, shapes and materials.
?  The wells do not necessarily have to store sample; they could in fact be components that perform various functions within a plate.
?       Incorporates automated sensing of variables such as temperature, relative humidity, volume, CO2, O2, pH and others of the samples within a well.  Not all variables are represented and the prototype is not required to monitor all of these, these are just given as examples.
?  The values should ideally be accessible in real time; so in the best case scenario the ?Smart Plate? would have some sort of integrated messaging capabilities over common network protocols such as SMS, MMS, RFID or TCP/IP.
?  If messaging is not an option in real time, the ability to store these values to memory for retrieval at a later time is required.
?       The device will ideally have some capacity to allow flow between wells through microfluidic channels.  The pumps or devices used to generate the flow are not required as part of the plate itself but access ports should be available.
?       Provide a detailed requirements and design document for the device, including mechanical and electrical drawings, in addition to hardware specifications and communications protocols used.
?       Cost estimates to manufacture a device capable of meeting the specifications listed above.
?       Provide NCATS with all data resulting from Phase I Activities and Deliverables.
Phase II Activities and Expected Deliverables:
?       Build a prototype plate that meets the Phase I specifications.
?       Provide a test plan to evaluate every feature of the device
?  Provide NCATS with all data from each executed test to properly evaluate each test condition
?       Develop a robust manufacturing plan for the device, using off the shelf OEM components where possible to minimize expense.
?       Provide NCATS with all data resulting from Phase II Activities and Deliverables.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
The NHLBI plans, conducts and supports research, clinical trials and demonstration and education projects related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, lung, and blood (including blood vessel), and sleep disorders. It also supports research on the clinical use of blood and all aspects of the management and safety of blood resources. The NHLBI SBIR/STTR program fosters basic, applied, and clinical research on all product and service development related to the mission of the NHLBI.
For more information on the NHLBI SBIR/STTR programs, visit our website at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sbir
NHLBI Phase IIB Programs
The NHLBI would like to provide notice of two SBIR Phase IIB funding opportunities. This notice is for informational purposes only and is not a call for Phase IIB proposals. This informational notice does not commit the government to making such awards to contract awardees.
The NHLBI offers Phase IIB opportunities through the NHLBI Bridge Award and the NHLBI Small Market Award using separate funding opportunity announcements (Bridge Award: RFA-HL-16-009; Small Market Award: RFA-HL-14-012). The purpose of the NHLBI Bridge and Small Market Awards is to accelerate the transition of SBIR Phase II projects to the commercialization stage by promoting partnerships between SBIR or STTR Phase II awardees and third-party investors and/or strategic partners. The Small Market Award is designed to support technologies addressing rare diseases or pediatric populations. The Bridge and Small Market Awards encourage business relationships between applicant small business concerns and third-party investors/strategic partners who can provide substantial financing to help accelerate the commercialization of promising new products and technologies that were initiated with SBIR/STTR funding. In particular, applicants are expected to leverage their previous SBIR/STTR support, as well as the opportunity to compete for additional funding through the NHLBI Bridge Award or Small Market Award programs, to attract and negotiate third-party financing needed to advance a product or technology toward commercialization.
Budgets up to $1 million in total costs per year and project periods up to three years (a total of $3 million over three years) may be requested. Development efforts may include preclinical R&D, which is needed for regulatory filings (e.g., IND or IDE) and/or clinical trials.
An SBIR Phase IIB Bridge or Small Market Award application must represent a continuation of the research and development efforts performed under a previously funded SBIR or STTR Phase II award. The NHLBI welcomes applicants previously funded by any NIH Institute or Center or any other Federal agency, as long as the proposed work applies to the NHLBI mission. Applications may be predicated on a previously funded SBIR or STTR Phase II grant or contract award. Applicants with Phase II contracts or awards from another Federal agency must contact the NHLBI to ensure their application can be received.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Jennifer Shieh, Ph.D. at 301-443-8785 or jennifer.shieh@nih.gov for additional information.
Limited Amount of Award
For budgetary, administrative, or programmatic reasons, the NHLBI may not fund a proposal and does not intend to fund proposals for more than the budget listed for each topic.
 
This solicitation invites proposals in the following areas.

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