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Xprize Announces 20 Finalists in $6M Rapid COVID-19 Testing Competition

NEW YORK ─ Xprize on Tuesday announced 20 finalists in a $6 million rapid COVID-19 testing competition that aims to facilitate the development of rapid tests and accelerate the safe return to public spaces.

Culver City, California-based Xprize said it selected finalist teams from 219 semifinalists after conducting blind proficiency testing and judging a detailed questionnaire reflecting each team's qualifications.

The finalists are 19-Xolution, Alveo Technologies, Biomeme, Boston Biopharma & Access Bio, ChromaCode, Luminostics, CovidNudge, GeneSurge, Genome Research, Highfield Diagnostics, LJI, Mirimus, Molecular Mirror, Molecular Systems Lab, Nanomix, Prompt, Reliable-LFC, Stanford Microfluidics Lab and Purigen Biosystems, UCSF COV2home, and ViralAlert.

For proficiency testing, the semifinalists were required to accurately identify samples that contained SARS-CoV-2 RNA. An independent panel compared results using a set of performance categories including specificity, sensitivity, and cross-reactivity.

Xprize launched the competition in collaboration with Menlo Park, California-based non-profit OpenCovidScreen.

It noted that the finalists now have two weeks to send their testing kits and protocols to laboratories for clinical validation.

The competition will conclude in February 2021 with the top five teams advancing to a deployment phase where they will prepare and administer tests at designated sites. Each successful team during the deployment phase will be awarded a $500,000, Xprize said.

Xprize added that it has further selected 10 teams to advance in an Open Innovation Track ─ Azar Utah, Cellex, CRISP19, Ram Global, Smart Spectra, Steradian Technologies, Tapestry, TeraGroup, u-Smell-it, and Worlds Protect.  

These teams' approaches demonstrated a high potential for impacting screening but couldn't be categorized as PCR, isothermal amplification, NGS, or antigen detection, Xprize said.

At the discretion of the judging panel, the top teams in the track are eligible to win a share of a $500,000, Xprize said.

Further, life sciences investors and company builders – including RA Capital, Bain Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Redmile Group, and Samsara Biocapital – are participating in a $50 million COVID Apollo Project along with OpenCovidScreen, the Xprize community, and others to accelerate and scale up the best ideas, technologies, and innovations, Xprize said.