Finalist round will judge for clinical validation in competition aimed at developing frequent, fast, affordable, and easy-to-use COVID-19 tests, easing global supply chain
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, today announced the 20 finalist teams advancing in the $6 million XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing prize, a competition to create newer, higher standards of COVID-19 testing to help society safely return to everyday activities. Finalist teams were selected out of a pool of 219 semifinalists following judging of a detailed questionnaire pertaining to each team’s qualifications and blind proficiency testing.
Until vaccines are able to be distributed to the majority of the global population, improved testing capabilities is a vital pandemic mitigation strategy. Nine months into a global pandemic, society’s most vulnerable citizens and populations are still disproportionately affected by COVID-19, with tests being inaccessible, too expensive or too slow.
The XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing finalist teams will now have two weeks to send their testing kits and protocols to laboratories for clinical validation. In collaboration with OpenCovidScreen, a non-profit founded by scientists and business leaders to drive needed innovation through “Open Science,” the XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing competition will conclude in February 2021 with the top five teams advancing to the deployment phase where they will have been matched to deployment sites to prepare and administer tests. Each team that successfully completes the deployment phase will be rewarded an additional $500,000, for a total of $2.5 million awarded at this phase.
The 20 finalist teams are:
- Alveo Technologies, Inc.
- Boston Biopharma & Access Bio
- Clip COVID (by Luminostics)
- Genome ResearchLimited
- Highfield Diagnostics
- Molecular Mirror
- Molecular Systems Lab
- Reliable-LFC, LLC
- Stanford Microfluidics Lab and Purigen Biosystems
- UCSF COV2home
“We look forward to testing these innovative solutions from our finalists in the field and seeing firsthand the positive impact they will have on humanity so we all can more safely return to everyday activities,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “We are encouraged by rapid tests hitting the market already and know demand will continue for technology that utilizes alternative resources – which will allow for more frequent and faster results for everyone.”
The 219 semifinalist teams received blind proficiency testing kits containing synthetic or inactivated COVID-19 RNA samples and were required to accurately identify which samples contain the RNA and which do not. Results were compared by an independent judging panel across a set of performance categories, including specificity, sensitivity, and cross-reactivity.
Judges for the semifinalist round included:
- Frances Tran, Machaon Diagnostics
- Nicole Tarlton, Basis Diagnostics
- Melaine Delcroix, Basis Diagnostics
- Kevin Land, University of Pretoria, South Africa
- Dhananjaya Dendukuri, CEO, Achira Labs, India
- Taylor Moehling, Sandia National Lab
- Anna Hooker, Stanford
- Billy Lau, Stanford
- Dan Cao, Illumina
- Dan Butler, Weill Cornell Medicine
- Chris Mozsary, Weill Cornell Medicine
- Sridar Chittur, Albany University
Additionally, 10 other teams were selected to advance in the Open Innovation Track, whose approaches demonstrated high potential for impactful screening solutions, but could not be categorized as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Isothermal Amplification, Next Generation Sequencing, or Antigen Detection and could not be tested through the competition rounds. At the discretion of the judging panel, top teams in this track will be eligible to win a share of $500,000. These teams may choose to perform testing at a deployment site and upon successful completion are eligible to share an additional award of up to $500,000.
The 10 teams in the Open Innovation Track are:
- Azar Utah
- Cellex, Inc.
- RAM Global
- Smart Spectra
- Steradian Technologies, Inc.
- Worlds PROTECT
To amplify impact, a $50 million COVID Apollo Project led by experienced life sciences investors and company builders – including RA Capital, Bain Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Redmile Group, and Samsara Biocapital – will work with OpenCovidScreen, the XPRIZE community, and beyond to accelerate the best ideas, technologies, and innovations to market and scale them.
This prize comes out of the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance, which was launched as a response to COVID-19 to bring researchers, innovators, institutions, corporations, and governments together to share ideas and resources in the fight against the current and future pandemics. Since launch, 85 organizations have joined the Alliance, where they have been able to share ideas and research through its digital collaboration platform Exchange, as well as through the XPRIZE Data Collaborative, a unique platform for innovators to collaborate, share and learn from data in a broad spectrum of fields in their search for solutions.
The Anthem Foundation and Anthem, Inc. serve as the Founding Anchor Partners of XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing. Seven major national and regional health plans are collaborating as founding partners: Blue Shield of California, Cambia Health Solutions, Inc, Health Care Service Corporation, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation, Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. (NJ), BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. Supporting partners include leading healthcare, laboratory and technology companies: Google, Amazon, Illumina, Ancestry, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Exact Sciences, Centerview Partners, Twist Bioscience, Opentrons, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Weill Cornell Medicine and Biotia, Inc.
For more information or the opportunity to deploy some of the winning teams’ solutions, visit XPRIZE.org/covidtesting.
XPRIZE is a global future-positive movement of over 1M people and rising, delivering truly radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE inspires and empowers a global community of problem-solvers to positively impact our world by crowdsourcing solutions through large-scale competitions, tackling the world’s grandest challenges in exploration, environment and human equity. Active competitions include the $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, $10 Million XPRIZE Rainforest, $15 Million XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, $6 Million XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing, $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, $1 Million Next-Gen Mask Challenge and $500,000 Pandemic Response Challenge. Donate, sign up or join a team at xprize.org.
OpenCovidScreen is a non-profit founded by scientists and business leaders committed to an “Open Science” model to drive needed innovation and help solve the critical unmet need for COVID-19 testing that is Frequent, Fast-turnaround, Cheap, and Easy, to enable safe Return-to-Work & School. For more information, visit OpenCovidScreen.org or @OpenCovidScreen on Twitter. Donations welcomed at OpenCollective.com/OpenCovidScreen.
ABOUT ANTHEM, INC
Anthem is a leading health benefits company dedicated to improving lives and communities, and making healthcare simpler. Through its affiliated companies, Anthem serves more than 107 million people, including more than 43 million within its family of health plans. We aim to be the most innovative, valuable and inclusive partner. For more information, please visit www.antheminc.com or follow @AnthemInc on Twitter.
ABOUT ANTHEM FOUNDATION
The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the organization’s commitment to improving lives and communities. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.
ABOUT COVID APOLLO PROJECT
Covid Apollo Project aims to enable a safe and sustainable return to work and school by identifying, assembling, developing, and scaling the most promising COVID-19 diagnostic opportunities. Covid Apollo was organized and funded under the leadership of RA Capital, a prominent biotechnology-focused investment firm, in collaboration with Redmile, Samsara, Perceptive Advisors, and Bain Capital. All of these firms will contribute to evaluating and scaling up technologies that Covid Apollo will accelerate.
Caden Kinard, XPRIZE