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The grant, termed a ‘Boost Grant’, is sponsored by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Govt. Of India Enterprise, as part of longstanding partnership with UK-based innovation foundation Nesta, which run the Longitude Prize.

The winners are among 78 teams from 14 countries competing for Nesta’s Longitude Prize, a global challenge with a £8 million payout. The challenge is to develop a point-of-care test to detect bacterial infections and ensure that the right antibiotics are used at the right time.

The grants follow a two-day accelerator programme conducted by BIRAC in collaboration with Nesta at the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay. The accelerator aimed to help teams become industry ready with guidance from business, technical, regulatory and clinical experts, and advice for overcoming hurdles in the development of their diagnostic tests.

Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India and Chairperson of BIRAC addressed the participants and announced the winners.

The teams awarded a Boost Grant are:

  • Module Innovations, Pune - Usense developed by Module Innovations is a credit card size test, which detects four major uropathogens in a single test. The sample flows into the four corners of the test device, each specific to a particular bacteria. The color change from blue to red indicates the presence of the bacteria in urine that is causing a UTI. The results are seen in 30 minutes and the test can be done at the point of care itself, with results visible to naked eye.
  • NanoDx, Delhi and Hyderbad- The team is creating a point of care test called Septiflo that can detect and stratify the Gram status of bacterial infections in a drop of human plasma in under 10 minutes. Results are visible to the naked eye and semi-quantified using a color score chart. This information can be of immense value in rapid decision-making for the selection of bacterial Gram-specific narrow-spectrum antibiotics.
  • OmiX and Spotsense, Bengaluru - The collaborative teams are creating a non-invasive diagnostic test using salivary markers of infection as the basis for diagnostics. It uses voltammetric detection of bacteria as the first step of 15 minutes to determine cases that are negative for infection. The cases that are indeterminate or considered positive are then tested for susceptibility to specific antibiotics for antibiotic selection using a novel, rapid, isothermal amplification platform. The assay goes from sample to result (currently) in 60 minutes. Detection is through digital camera readout of a colorimetric signal.

Addressing the participants, Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary Department of Biotechnology and Chairperson, BIRAC saidIt is a pleasure to see the innovative solutions created by Indian start-ups advancing to a stage which is near to the market. Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem and the Indian Government is committed to support a solution for the same. Partnership with Nesta and support for Longitude prize aspirants is one such effort in this direction. I congratulate the winners and wish them good luck in their journey to develop a solution for the global problem of antibiotic misuse.”

Daniel Berman, Lead, Global Health Team at Nesta, said “Indian innovators are strongly represented in the Longitude Prize challenge, with 21 of the 78 global competitors based in India. This strong participation is a result of BIRAC’s strong support to Indian med-tech start-ups. The winning teams have shown significant progress toward developing a point-of-care diagnostic test that will help people to know when they need to use antibiotics and which ones to use. The Longitude Prize competition is tightening, and the race is picking up speed.”

Launched in 2014, the Longitude Prize was originally designed as a five-year challenge and was last month extended from 2019 until at least December 2020. The competition remains open for new teams to apply here: https://longitudeprize.org/applying-support

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Notes to Editors

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About The Longitude Prize: The Longitude Prize has been developed by the Challenge Prize Centre at Nesta, the innovation foundation, and has a £10 million prize fund, with a £8 million payout, to develop a rapid diagnostic to help tackle antimicrobial resistance. It was announced by the UK Prime Minister at the G8 Summit in 2013 and is being supported by Innovate UK as funding partner. The Prize commemorates the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act (1714) when the British government threw down the gauntlet to solve one of the great scientific challenges of that century: how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude.

www.longitudeprize.org / @longitude_prize

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833

About BIRAC: Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface Agency to stimulate, foster and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian Biotech industry, particularly Startups and SME’s, for creation of affordable products addressing the unmet needs.