For Business

Vision 4 Mars Challenge

Vision & Space

nsbri-visionformars-rgbNSBRI Industry Forum Initiative & Public-Private Partnership

Highlights of the Challenge:  Grant Funding for Small U.S.-based Companies

  • Focus on Ophthalmology
  • Non-dilutive seed funding
  • Follow-on funding possible
  • At least three grants by March, 2015 ($100K each)
  • Easy online application (First Stage: 1-2 pages)
  • UPDATE: See a list of Winners here!

Visual Disorders In Space & How Ophthalmology Can Help

NSBRI Industry Forum announces the Vision for Mars challenge aimed at safeguarding the eye in space by way of a public-private partnership that brings together a veritable “dream team” of world renowned ophthalmologists and business people and Industry Forum and its advisors (Astronauts, Researchers, Executives, and Doctors) to determine the etiology of and treatments for a newly described visual impairment syndrome in astronauts. NASA needs next generation clinical diagnostic and research-enabling technologies that will provide critical information about ocular health during spaceflight. These technologies must be small, robust and easy to use for non-experts.

The Vision for Mars challenge coincides with an ongoing Industry Forum initiative called SMARTCAP (Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program), which identifies and funds small U.S.-based companies developing disruptive medical technologies. The NSBRI Industry Forum and NSBRI’s Science Office will convene key industry leaders with expertise in ophthalmology and medical device commercialization in order to identify appropriate diagnostic technologies worthy of support. Competitive funding opportunities provided through SMARTCAP will fast-track development for operational use. This initiative will help mitigate the Risk of Spaceflight-Induced Vision Impairment and Intracranial Pressure (VIIP) Syndrome.

The Vision 4 Mars Program

  • November 6, 2014: Conference in Houston
  • November 6 to December 4, 2014: Working Groups established to identify commercial and pre-commercial technologies/products
  • January 16, 2015: Deadline for SMARTCAP applications
  • March, 2015: Results of SMARTCAP competition announced – seed funding of selected ophthalmology-focused companies

Conference Deliverables

  • Education of ophthalmic industry leaders about the VIIP syndrome
  • Identification of key players in ophthalmic technology development whose commercial goals align with those of the space program
  • Education of NSBRI and NASA by the ophthalmology industry leaders about commercially available state-of-the-art diagnostic devices
  • Identification and prioritization of promising next generation technologies or modifications of existing commercial devices
  • Identification and crafting of private/public partnering for funding R&D on high priority new technologies
  • Conference report (see “Conference Outcomes” below)
  • Up to six candidate companies will be selected from all applicants to compete for SMARTCAP funding of $100,000 each for up to three companies

Conference Outcomes

The Vision for Mars Team was briefed by NASA and NSBRI on the ophthalmic findings in astronauts during the November 6th conference in Houston.  The team spent the afternoon discussing the needs and required technologies and made several important recommendations. Read More

Examples of Technologies and Approaches Needed by NASA

  • Ability to determine refraction in space
  • Visual field testing in space
  • An easier and more accurate way to measure Intraocular Pressure (IOP) in space
  • Ability to measure scleral thickness at the posterior pole in space
  • Techniques to image the retinal and other eye vasculature in space
  • Ways to determine “benign” versus “harmful” disc edema
  • Ability to estimate translaminar pressure across lamina cribrosa

The Ophthalmology Dream Team

William J. Link, Ph.D. Managing Director

Versant Ventures 
Click here for full bio.

Eugene de Juan, Jr., MD

Founder & Vice Chairman, 
ForSight Labs 
Click here for full bio.

Richard L. Lindstrom, MD

Founder & Attending Surgeon, 
Minnesota Eye Consultants 
Click here for full bio.

Jane E. Rady, MS, MBA

Divisional VP, Business Development 
Abbott Medical Optics 
Click here for full bio.

Randy McDonald

Founder and President, 
The Magnum Group, Inc. 
Click here for full bio.

Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH

Professor Of Ophthalmology, 
The Stanford University Medical Center 
Click here for full bio.

Steven Schallhorn, MD

Private Practice Physician, GWS Vision
Chief Medical Director, Optical Express
 Click here for full bio.  

Paul Hallen, MS

Head, Global Retina 
Alcon a Novartis Company 
Click here for full bio.

John Berdahl, M.D.

Private Practice Physician
, Vance Thompson Vision
 Click here for full bio.

Bob Main, ABOM

, Web Vision Centers Group, LLC
 Click here for full bio