Top 25 Medical Device Development Grants for Small Businesses

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Alice Vo Edwards, Translational Science R&D Consultant on Kolabtree, provides a comprehensive list of medical device development grants and funding options for small businesses in the US and UK.  

A non-stop challenge that small businesses have is securing grants. It can be stressful and time consuming trying to find grants that are relevant to your business, and also currently accepting applications. To help make the process easier and quicker for you, we’ve curated this list of twenty five grants that are currently available to small businesses developing medical devices in the United States and Europe.

1. NSF Seed Fund

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Seed Fund provides Phase I and Phase II funding that can total up to $1.25 million dollars in funding to small businesses. All work must be conducted in the United States and the company must be owned by 50% or more U.S. citizens. One perk of this program is that you must submit (and have approved) a short, 3 page pitch, before submitting your full proposal. Another is that you don’t have to have a company already set up: you can pitch your idea before you even have a corporation setup. I’ve participated in calls with some of the program directors on what makes a good pitch, and they told me that a significant portion of the companies they fund are brand-new startups. After submitting the 3 page pitch, you will need to get set up as a legal U.S. corporation that meets their ownership guidelines, in order to submit a full proposal. Also, they have rolling deadlines throughout the year.

2. Michigan Business Development Program

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has established a Michigan Strategic fund to spur economic growth within the state of Michigan. As part of this initiative, the Michigan Business development program provides grants, loans, and other economic assistance to businesses for projects that will create economic growth in Michigan. This is a highly competitive grant. Criteria of a competitive business include those that will create jobs, provide investment, and that are expected to ultimately provide Michigan with a net return on their grant. With the demand for medical, prevention, and related health oriented businesses, small businesses creating medical devices have a good chance of being perceived as competitive as part of a strategic plan to increase the export of medical devices and other health oriented products and services from the state.

3. Elevate Grant by Oxfordshire Business Support (OBS)

Oxfordshire Business Support (OBS) created the Elevate Programme consisting of two funds for Oxfordshire SMEs to fund projects and activities related to job creation, start-up, and growth. The first fund awards start-up businesses, which have been established 12 months or less, a minimum of £1,000 up to the maximum amount of £3,000. The second fund awards growing businesses, established longer than 12 months, a minimum of £1,000 up to £8,000 maximum. To apply for this grant, SMEs must be based in an eligible sector of Oxfordshire, England and have sufficient funds to match the requirements. These funds can be utilized for capital and revenue projects; to increase sales through consulting, market research, and advertising; to improve business processes, performance, and profitability; and to create new jobs within your company. This is a highly competitive grant competition with an aim to provide flexible capital and/or revenue to assist SMEs, ultimately leading to business growth and job creation in Oxfordshire, England.

4. Google COVID-19 Support Funding

With the recent coronavirus outbreak, we have seen major shifts in the global economy and whether or not businesses have the ability to adapt and overcome new challenges. Google has announced an $800+ million commitment to relieve SMBs, health workers and organizations, and governments worldwide in addressing these new challenges. Google.org is already providing $15 million in cash grants to NGOs to assist SMBs in this time of hardship. There are several ways to receive assistance from Google, whether it is an ad grant award, access to capital, Google Ads credits, Google Cloud credits, or academic and research grants. Google is also offering direct financial support and expertise to increase production of personal protective equipment and lifesaving medical devices. Their commitment to help communities across the globe is aimed at navigating present and future challenges.

5. Get funding for ideas that address COVID-19

The goal of the COVID-19 grant fund through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is to provide funding of short-term projects for UK based companies directly correlated with the coronavirus outbreak. Proposals from companies and organizations must demonstrate the ability to address and mitigate effects on economies, cultures, environments, communities, and/or health during the length of the project. This opportunity is perfect for small businesses developing medical devices, because they support the manufacturing and adoption of interventions addressing the COVID-19 outbreak now and for future utilization. If your company is based in the UK but you have partners or products from outside the UK, this grant does allow international co-investigators in some instances.

6. Citizen science collaboration grant

The Citizen Science Collaboration grant will support multidisciplinary research collaborations that spread citizen science methods into new fields of research and involve citizens to address societally-relevant issues. This is a single round funding scheme for projects lasting one to three years. Lead applicants can be from any discipline and must be of lecturer level or equivalent. This grant supports UK based applicants and awards up to £1.5 million. They are particularly interested in funding collaborative projects that will allow researchers who have no prior experience in using citizen science methods to develop their expertise, and projects that extend citizen science methods into new research disciplines. Citizen science is defined by Wikipedia as “scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by ameteur (or nonprofessional) scientists. This is a great opportunity to consider how your medical device might benefit from Citizen science. For example, when users of a medical app input their personal data and allow it to be shared for larger data analysis and predictive projects, these users are considered citizen scientists. How could your medical product benefit from developing citizen scientists?

7. Technology Touching Life

Multiple grants for research applications pertaining to the scope of Technology Touching Life available through a group of three research councils (BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC) in the UK. There are many grants available, one in particular is funded by the BBSRC and is relevant to technology development for the biosciences. This area of focus encourages  development of new bioanalytical and/or biological tools and technologies, and if awarded, the Research Councils provide funding on the basis of 80% of the full economic cost. To help applicants identify the most appropriate lead research council to submit a proposal, UKRI recommends submitting a query form to the TTL inbox.

Also read: How to write a winning grant proposal: Expert tips

8. Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is part of the government’s long-term plan to raise productivity and earning power in the UK. This fund is a core pillar in the government’s commitment to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over 4 years to strengthen UK science and business. They invest in highly-innovative businesses to address the biggest industrial and societal challenges today. SMBs could submit medical device funding proposals addressing one or more of the following areas: accelerating detection of disease, commercialization of quantum technology, and manufacturing made smarter.

9. Eureka: healthy ageing

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, calls for UK registered businesses to apply for funding in collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects related to healthy aging. Focus areas include industrial research and medical devices; specifically robotics, augmented or artificial intelligence, software as a medical device, wearables, diagnostics, imaging, data analytics, sensors, apps, and other medical devices that promote healthy ageing. Applicants can apply for a total grant of up to £500,000 for each project, not to exceed £2 million. Medical device SMBs have a chance to develop new products, processes, or services that lead to improvements in existing areas.

10. A Grant to Pay for Biomedical Scientists to Work For Your Company

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) invites applications for individuals from any discipline wishing to spend up to 36 months (full or part time) on secondment (this is a type of short-term contract/employment) in the biomedical sciences sector. This grant would allow a medical device small business to receive funding to pay for the secondment of a biomedical science expert to work on projects within your medical device company. The objectives of this grant call for a medical device small business are to create porosity between sectors by enabling career mobility; boost the skills, knowledge, and career development of people; intensify knowledge exchange between the biomedical industry and academia; add value to the Biomedical Sciences sector and the UK economy by increasing productivity. This grant can total up to £300,000 per secondment (up to 36 months).

11. Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP)

Each year the Department for International Trade (DIT) and TAP trade challenge partners agree which overseas trade shows they will provide grants for UK businesses to attend. The grants must not exceed the business’s own expenditure on direct exhibiting costs, and in some cases, grants may also be agreed to help towards direct conference costs where the purpose of attending is to promote the business (ie conference fees and costs of preparing conference material). Grant awards can total between £500 and £2,500. These trade shows include some of the most important events in each sector’s calendar, where the best opportunities exist for UK organisations to access. Businesses take part as a group, led by the trade challenge partner for that trade show.

12. The Prince’s Trust

Got a business in mind or want to explore an idea? The Prince’s Trust works with 18 to 30-year-olds living in the UK to develop big ideas into reality. From training and mentoring support to funding and resources, they are committed to helping you become the best entrepreneur you can be. This free Enterprise programme is broken down into three stages: information session, workshop, build your business. Before the launch of your new medical device business, you will present your business plan to the Business Launch Group. It is a positive experience designed to ensure there are no weak points in your plan, and the group may even provide additional start-up financial support, if needed.

13. The Greater Lincolnshire Growth Fund

The Greater Lincolnshire Growth Fund has over £2,925,000 of grant funding available. This funding is targeted at supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and larger businesses within the Greater Lincolnshire area for larger transformational projects. This might be a good fit for a medical device company that is looking to expand its operations, set up a warehouse, or establish a facility to manufacture its medical devices.

14. Growth Lincolnshire – Business Growth and Digital Growth Grants (GLLEP)

This UK grant is to promote new jobs or significant sales of product, within the Greater Lincolnshire area. If you don’t don’t think you qualify for the larger projects funded through the Greater Lincolnshire Growth Fund or feel overwhelmed by the prospect of applying for a large grant, this small grant may be right for your first attempt. Grants range from £1,000 – £5,000 and can contribute between 40% and 50% of your overall costs. If you think this may be of interest to you, the next step is to discuss the activity you are requesting funding for with a Business Lincolnshire adviser. One potential use of this grant that those who aren’t currently based in Greater Lincolnshire could investigate is requesting funding to test developing partnerships and market with local businesses to increase sales of your medical device within the Greater Lincolnshire area.

15.  Military Medical Photonics Program

The United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research is funding awards of between $250,000 and $2,000,000 for medical photonics devices. While this is a military grant, this proposal does not require security clearance, as this is considered an unclassified proposal for technology that can be used in helping treat soldiers. While this funding can be applied for by small businesses, it is recommended that a small business applicant proposal include information on how the project will be completed by or incorporate relationships with a team that includes university-based medical institutions, biomedical scientists, engineers, etc. This would be critical for future ongoing funding as they intend that future phases be focused on institutional settings, clinical practice, and in working products. This proposal also requires experience collaborating with military medical centers, or experience in military medical or combat care. If you don’t have military experience yourself, consider discussing your product or partnering with a vetaran, or discuss your product with one of the U. S. Military Research Organizations.

16. Neuromodulation/Neurostimulation Device Development for Mental Health Applications

It’s not often that mental health grants have no upper limit, but that is exactly the case for this grant opportunity. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is providing funding of any amount, large or small, to small businesses and entities of all sizes (including those outside of the United States). Medical device proposals being sought are for projects that will either 1) develop novel brain stimulation devices or 2) significantly enhance, by means of hardware/software improvements, the effectiveness of brain stimulation devices that are currently U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved or cleared. One great part of this grant is that it is heavily research oriented, so you can propose a hypothesis-driven research project.

17. Development and/or Validation of Devices or Electronic Systems to Monitor or Enhance Mind and Body Interventions

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in the United States is accepting proposals for Small Business Technology Transfer Grants for medical device developers to either 1) monitor biologically- or behaviorally-based processes applicable to mind and body interventions or 2) be used to assist in optimizing the practice or increasing the efficacy of mind and body interventions. This is a great opportunity for a medical device developer to partner with a mind/body intervention specialist to adapt or validate your medical device, or propose development of a new medical device that can be used in this capacity. The $400,000 in funding is only available to small businesses based in the United States, but some foreign components may be allowed. Clinical trial is optional, so you can decide whether you want to propose developing something new, or requesting funding for a clinical trial to validate something you’ve already developed, for use in this context.

18. Development of Wearable Smart Devices for Continuous Monitoring of Circulating Nutrients, Metabolites and Hormones

The United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) are funding a phased innovation award for medical tools and devices that can continuously monitor certain types of health data. Types of health data they are interested in funding medical device research on include nutrients, metabolites, metabolic signals, microbiome, and circadian metabolism. The National Cancer Institute also encourages submissions related to measuring cancer-related circulating metabolites on a continuous basis, for consideration in treatment of cancer patients. They plan to fund an initial phase of up to $200,000, with the potential for additional phases based on innovation that performs well during the first phase.

19. Advancing Imaging, Device Production, and Clinical Capabilities in Digital Dentistry

If you’re frustrated with grants where you have to compete against larger companies, are working on or interested in developing medical devices related to dentistry, and are based in the United States, this grant is for you. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is funding a grant to support innovation,  optimization, and customization of the medical technologies used in digital dentistry. This funding is for up to $1.5 million in the second phase stage with no minimum on the amount they might be willing to fund for Phase 1 exploratory projects. There are multiple types of medical devices they are interested in encouraging small businesses to submit their proposals in. These include medical device development of digital imaging, novel image processing capabilities for dental radiology, and medical devices that use or integration of 3-dimensional (3D) additive manufacturing (e.g., 3D printing) with imaging tools which can support more timely delivery of dental products.

20. Gastrointestinal (GI) and Microbiome Explorers: Development of Swallowable Smart Pills or Devices for Precision Nutrition, Microbiome and Digestive Disease Applications

The National Institutes of Health are funding up to $500,000 for the development of medical devices that can be of assistance in treating or managing gastrointestinal or digestive disorders of the stomach. A couple examples of the types of medical devices that are currently being sought for funding consideration include smart pills that can be swallowed, or devices that assist in measuring the microbiome within the gastrointestinal tract. While funding is available to small businesses, nonprofits, and other US-based entities, keep in mind that a clinical trial is required as part of this grant opportunity.

21.  Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP): Assistive Technology to Promote Independence and Community Living

Funding of up to $500,000 is available for medical device technology that can support those with disabilities or who need rehabilitation support in the United States. The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research anticipates providing 4 awards of this amount. If this grant is of interest to you, contact them immediately as the application period is currently set to close March 26, 2020. If you have missed this deadline, it is still worth taking a look at, so you can become familiar with other grants that this organization makes available. In the United States, many of these federally funded national grants are re-opened or extended for multiple periods. Also, it is possible that with the challenges related to COVID-19, grantors may be updating their solicitation with expanded deadlines.

22. U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Broad Agency Announcement for Basic, Applied, and Advanced Research (Fiscal Years 2018-2023)

Small businesses developing (or interested in developing) medical devices that can improve human performance and army readiness for the United States Army mawant to consider reviewing the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Broad Agency Announcement. This announcement is currently listed as being open to new submissions through 2023. Contact information is provided so that you can easily send in a short blurb on your topic and request confirmation that it is something of interest before completing a full proposal. This funding opportunity is available to small businesses of multiple types including for-profit, not for profit, educational, and commercial organizations. It also allows submission by foreign organizations (those based outside of the United States). No cap is specified on the funding amount so if you need a large amount of funding, this may also be a viable option for you.

23.  Exploratory Clinical Trials for Small Business

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is providing funding for clinical trials of relevant medical devices, including surgical or diagnostic devices, or rehabilitative devices. This grant is designed to be provided by a small business concern, but can include partnership with other entity types to assist your small business with performing the clinical trial. Phase 1 funding is between $150,000 and $225,000. Phase II and Fast Track Proposals can be up to $1.5 million.

24.  Wearable Alcohol Biosensors

The U.S. government is funding medical device research of $1.5 million and up, for a U.S. based small business to develop a non-invasive, discreet wearable medical device that can monitor blood alcohol levels in real time. Initial phases do not require clinical trials for initial product design and development, and no partnership with external research or educational organizations is required.

25. HEAL Initiative

The HEAL Initiative through the National Institute of Health is providing almost $2 million in funding through Phase 1 and Phase 2 grants, through an STTR program. This program provides fundings for small businesses developing medical technologies, tools, or devices related to pain management. This grant requires that the small business partner with a research institution or educational institution that is one of the approved partner categories to be funded through the grant to assist your business in performing clinical trial(s).

These grants are just a few of the options that may be available to you as a small business in the medical device development industry. We encourage you to check back, as we hope to update this list, as other grants become available. Reviewing the organizations that are providing these grants may also lead you to additional opportunities as they become available in the future.

Need help with a medical device grant proposal or regulatory compliance? Work with experienced scientists and industry experts on Kolabtree. View experts:
Grant proposal writers | Medical device consultants | Regulatory writers


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About Author

Alice Vo Edwards is a translational science and applied psychology expert, with a specific focus on developing or performing analysis on pilot projects for growing companies. Her expertise spans quantitative and qualitative analysis and analyzing data using SPSS and Tableau. She can provide reports in Powerpoint, poster, Tableau, case study, whitepaper, or academic publication formats. She is also an experienced grant writer.

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