NIH Mobilizes Innovation Initiative

NIH’s new initiative is aimed at speeding innovation, development, and commercialization of COVID-19 testing technologies. The Federal stimulus provides $1.5 billion to fund the newly launched “Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics” (RADx) initiative. NIH will work closely with FDA, CDC, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), to advance the goals for the initiative.

As part of the initiative, NIH is urging all scientists and inventors with a rapid testing technology to compete in a national COVID-19 testing challenge for a share of up to $500 million over all phases of development. The technologies will be put through a highly competitive rapid three-phase selection process to identify the best candidates for use at-home or for point-of-care tests for COVID-19.

Finalists will be matched with technical, business, and manufacturing experts to increase the odds of success. If certain selected technologies are already relatively far along in development, they can be put on a separate track and immediately advance to the appropriate step in the commercialization process. The goal is to make millions of accurate and easy-to-use tests per week available to all Americans by the end of summer 2020 and even more tests in time for the flu season.

Newer technologies can offer user friendly designs enabling mobile device integration to reduce costs and increase accessibility both at home and at the point-of-care. RADx will also expand the “Point of Care Technologies Research Network” (POCTRN) which was established several years ago by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging & Bioengineering (NIBIB).

POCTRN supports investigators through five technology hubs that includes Emory University/Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation & Technology (CIMIT) at Harvard MedicSchool/ Massachusetts General Hospital.

Led by CIMIT, POCTRN’s review boards covering scientific, clinical, regulatory, and business domains, will evaluate the technology proposals.

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