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11th January 2021  Product update: rapidmicrobiology staff writer

COVID-19 Test Manufacturers Advance to Finals in XPRIZE Competition

XPRIZE has 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 can be distributed to most global populations, improved testing capabilities are 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 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: 

  • 19-Xolution
  • Alveo Technologies, Inc.
  • Biomeme
  • Boston Biopharma & Access Bio
  • ChromaCode
  • Clip COVID (by Luminostics)
  • CovidNudge
  • GeneSurge
  • Genome ResearchLimited
  • Highfield Diagnostics
  • LJI
  • Mirimus
  • Molecular Mirror
  • Molecular Systems Lab
  • Nanomix
  • Reliable-LFC, LLC
  • Stanford Microfluidics Lab and Purigen Biosystems
  • UCSF COV2home
  • ViralAlert

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. 

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.
  • CRISP19
  • RAM Global
  • Smart Spectra
  • Steradian Technologies, Inc.
  • Tapestry
  • TeraGroup
  • u-Smell-it™
  • 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.

For more information or the opportunity to deploy some of the winning teams’ solutions, click here

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Date Published: 11th January 2021

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Note: This content has been edited by a rapidmicrobiology staff writer for style and content.