BrainScope among trio of med techs getting $100M from DOD

The U.S. Department of Defense has bestowed $100 million in contracts with three med tech companies. The recent awardees include Abbott Laboratories ($ABT), Impact Instrumentation and BrainScope. The BrainScope grant will go to further R&D for its traumatic brain injury (TBI) assessment system, while the other two were for medical equipment.

BrainScope won three DOD contracts totaling $15.9 million. The largest is $9.9 million for "research and development on the brain functions assessment of mild traumatic brain injury, from initial injury to rehabilitation and treatment." The work is funded specifically by the Army out of fiscal 2013 funds, with a three-year period until completion.

The company said the money would go to continue R&D on its Ahead system for the assessment of TBI. The new funds will help fund clinical studies of the system in hospital emergency departments and university sports programs. BrainScope was awarded $11.3 million from DOD from 2011 through 2013, bringing its total from that agency to date to $27.2 million.

"Brainscope has been a superb development partner, meeting program benchmarks despite the technical challenges inherent in innovative, yet complex, technology," Dr. Dallas Hack of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Brain Health Champion said in a statement.

BrainScope's Ahead system records the electrical activity of the brain via a handheld, noninvasive, radiation-free device. The idea is to provide a rapid, effective assessment of brain injury at the point-of-care, which for the military may mean field hospitals. The expectation is that early identification and categorization of even the mildest types of brain injuries will enable appropriate care.

Under its prior DOD funding, BrainScope developed a prototype of the Ahead system using existing smartphone technology that will be used in the new DOD-funded research.

 "We understand the significant need for a rapidly applied assessment capability with results displayed in minutes so that first responders can make vital triage decisions," BrainScope President and CEO Michael Singer said in a statement. "We are greatly appreciative of the support the U.S. Military has shown BrainScope over the years and look forward to quickly ramping up our efforts on these important projects."

The privately held BrainScope is backed by investors including Revolution (created by AOL co-founder Steve Case), Shaman Ventures, ZG Ventures, Maryland Venture Fund, Brain Trust Accelerator Fund and Difference Capital.

The largest two DOD contracts were straightforward medical equipment contracts. Abbott won a 5-year deal for up to $48.8 million for medical equipment and accessories. The bidding was competitive, with 48 offers received by the agency. The initial appropriation comes from fiscal 2014 funds. Impact Instrumentation got a contract for up to $35 million for "airworthy suction apparatus."

The New Jersey-based company specializes in respiratory care and measurement products such as aspirators and vacuum pumps. It has a particular focus on creating devices for use in space, aeromedicine and hyperbaric medicine. The contract is for 5 years; Impact's was the only offer received by DOD. It's funded through fiscal 2015 war-stopper funds.

- here are the DOD announcements for BrainScope as well as for Abbott and Impact (DOD only announces contracts of $6.5 million or more, so BrainScope's two smaller contracts weren't announced by the agency.)
- here is the Brainscope release

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