HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 16, 2021) -- XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, is pleased to announce today the nine winning teams in the $6M XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing competition, with each winner creating high-quality, affordable COVID-19 testing to help society safely reopen and return to everyday activities.
Chosen by an independent panel of judges, the grand prize winning solutions are radically affordable compared to what is currently available on the market; and are comparable to commercial offerings at measuring sensitivity, specificity and limit of detection, with a maximum turnaround time of 12 hours from sample to result.
The teams were separated into two tracks: RNA and Antigen Testing, and Open Innovation. The Open Innovation Track included technologies that demonstrated new, innovative solutions and their high potential for impactful screening solutions. Steradian Technologies was in the Open Innovation track for their novel detection of pathogens and biomarkers via photonic amplification.
“We are thrilled to announce the winners of the XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing, which awarded multiple winners with unique testing solutions to help prevent future supply chain problems,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “We started this journey to ensure communities across the globe have access to fast, affordable, and easy-to-use COVID-19 tests. We are grateful to have the best entrepreneurial and scientific teams on board to help bring their solutions to scale so we can properly reopen schools, businesses, and other vital institutions around the world.”
The winning teams are:
“We are extremely excited to create high-tech diagnostic solutions that are rapid, inexpensive, and accurate to create healthcare accessibility and equity for everyone, irrespective of any financial, geopolitical, or socioeconomic barriers. COVID-19 detection is our near-term goal, and we’re looking forward to the possibilities of ubiquitous testing for all,” said Asma Mirza, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Steradian Technologies.
Steradian Technologies pivoted amidst the COVID-19 crisis from developing a product that created human super-sight via the startup’s proprietary optics to creating a rapid detection point-of-care using the same optics technology. The birth of the RUMI was a serendipitous discovery during a weekly innovation meeting.
The RUMI diagnostic system uses photonics to detect disease biomarkers within a user’s breath within 30-seconds. An adaptable, no-lab, portable unit that has high accuracy and high testing capacity is needed now more than ever.
Unlike other diagnostic tests that require multi-steps in their assays for detection, Steradian Technologies has opted for a single-step, direct detection approach using photonics for targeting surface proteins for viral respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19, and biomarkers for early-stage lung cancer detection.
The technology’s uniqueness lies in the amplification process of a pathogen’s signal, as well as its detection. Unlike current rapid tests, the RUMI does not amplify the genetic material; rather, it amplifies the signal that indicates the presence of the pathogen. Once that signal is amplified via photonics (within 30 seconds), the RUMI can immediately detect the presence and concentration of the pathogen in a person's breath.
The RUMI will incorporate data-sharing capabilities to monitor population health and infectious disease spread in real-time. Swift data collection to inform healthcare, economic, and public policy unilaterally minimizes the impact of a viral outbreak. The device can be used by any semi-skilled worker. Lastly, the device is low-cost, easy to manufacture at scale, and can increase testing accessibility for all.
Currently, the RUMI is being optimized for COVID-19 detection for all SARS-CoV-2 strains. Testing costs can run about a tenth of the cost of PCR, or the price of latte, increasing testing accessibility across all communities, and increasing better patient outcomes.
Steradian Technologies’ success is attributed to its multidisciplinary and multigenerational team. The company was founded by Asma Mirza, a global health scientist with a background in biochemistry; Jerry Aguren, an electrical engineer with deep expertise in optics; and John Marino, a mechanical engineer with a focus on product innovation. The team was later joined by Barbara Nassif, Director of Research and Development for Synthetic Biology. Nassif is currently pursuing her PhD in cancer immunotherapy from The University of Texas UTHealth MD Anderson Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that we need to be more prepared as a nation and as a global community for future viral threats. The rapid development of vaccines has been achieved through incorporating new technologies, and diagnostic tech needs to do the same. Our goal has been just that. We wanted to create a diagnostic tool that could be fast, accurate, and easy to use and could be widely deployed,” said Marino, Steradian’s Chief of Product Development. “We know that Covid-19 won’t be the last threat of this kind and are developing a solution that can easily adapt to any new pathogen. We are extremely grateful to have been recognized by XPRIZE for our effort."
Steradian Technologies, Inc., joined the XPRIZE competition in September 2020, and made their way to the finals in December 2020.
Following the December finalist announcements, the 20 teams sent their testing kits and protocols to two separate laboratories, for clinical validation. The independent judges, composed of diverse experts in the healthcare and COVID-19 space, reviewed each team’s lab results, testing concepts, and proposals before deciding on the winners.
“While vaccines are important, we cannot rely on them alone to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and future outbreaks, especially not until they are provided around the world, en masse and at-scale,” said Jeff Huber, President & Co-Founder of OpenCovidScreen. “These technological breakthroughs in rapid covid testing are providing a safety net to ensure the spread of the disease is contained and to enable a safe return to work and school, and to protect hotspots like nursing homes. These advancements are key to helping underserved, under-resourced communities get access to affordable, accurate tests and to ultimately save more lives now and in the future.”
The XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing judges included:
Launched this past July amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this prize comes out of the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance 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.
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.
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, Ilumina, Ancestry, Testing for America, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Exact Sciences, Centerview Partners, Twist Bioscience, Opentrons, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Weill Cornell Medicine , Biotia, Inc and Medical College of Wisconsin.
Teams will work the remainder of the year to accelerate the adoption of their solutions on a massive scale. XPRIZE will oversee the development of a multimedia playbook documenting the testing protocols, plans implemented and lessons learned at deployment sites where this incredible testing technology will be rolled out. XPRIZE is currently inviting communities like schools, offices, factories, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and other communities to apply to be part of this innovative roll-out. For more information and to apply to be a deployment site, visit https://www.xprize.org/prizes/covidtesting/community-deployment.
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 110 million people, including approximately 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.