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BRAIN Initiative: Development Optimization, and Validation of Novel Tools and Technologies for Neuroscience Research (SBIR) (R43/R44 - Clinical Trial Not Allowed)



The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is a Presidential project aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that the application of these new tools and technologies will ultimately lead to new ways to identify, treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders.

NIH is one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative. Planning for the NIH component of the BRAIN initiative is guided by the long-term scientific plan, "BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision," which details seven high-priority research areas and calls for a sustained federal commitment of $4.5 billion over 12 years. This report can be found at This FOA and other FOAs issued in Fiscal Year 2018 are based on NIH's careful consideration of the recommendations of the BRAIN 2025 Report, and input from the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group.

In addition to the National BRAIN initiative, the NIH continues to have a substantial annual investment in neuroscience research and in technology development, including through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. 

Research Objectives

Based on the priority areas identified by the BRAIN 2025, and in further evaluation of the neurotechnologies currently available to neuroscience researchers, it was determined that there is a need to enable broad dissemination of tools/technologies that improve our understanding of brain function. Many of these inventions require additional research and development (R&D) before they can be disseminated to the broader neuroscience community. To fill this research gap, this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) which uses the STTR grant mechanism, will support to support the development of novel neuroscience tools and technologies in order to better understand the structure and function of brain circuits- a major goal of the BRAIN Initiative. This FOA will support further development of neurotechnologies developed through the BRAIN initiative or through other funding programs in preparation for commercial dissemination.

It is expected that the activities proposed will require partnerships and close collaboration between the original developers of these technologies and Small Business Concerns (SBCs), which may be accomplished in a number of ways, including the use of multiple program directors/principal investigators. 

Examples of neurotechnologies that would be appropriate for this FOA include, but are not limited to, development of: 

While some of the markets for these products may be small, NIH is supportive of developing these technologies towards sustainable commercial manufacture. The full development and dissemination of these technologies will enable neuroscientists to perform novel hypothesis-driven experiments that are not feasible and/or reduce barriers to experiments that currently are too costly, difficult, or time consuming to perform broadly.   

For more information about neurotechnologies that may be of interest for this FOA, please see the BRAIN website:

Projects with non-exempt human subjects research will not be supported by this FOA. Such projects will not be accepted to this FOA.

See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.

    • Probes for large scale sensing and/or manipulation of neural activity in vivo
    • Imaging instrumentation for recording and/or manipulating neural activity in vivo
    • Electrodes for large-scale recording and/or circuit manipulation in vivo
    • Techniques and approaches for recording/manipulating neural activity during behaviors
    • Novel tools to facilitate the detailed analysis of complex circuits and provide insights into cellular interactions that underlie brain function  
    • Software or hardware related to the BRAIN initiative
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