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Funding Canadian key enablers to develop diagnostic kits for COVID‑19

- Ottawa, Ontario

Using the ISC program, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) collaborated to launch the "Point-of-Care Diagnostic Kit for COVID‑19" challenge— seeking a solution from Canadian small and medium-sized businesses.

The NRC is investing nearly $1.2 million dollars to support 4 companies working on a solution:

  • Deep Biologics Inc. is receiving $300,000 to develop a palm-sized, portable device that detects viral protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in saliva, with results in 20 minutes
  • Fourien Inc. is receiving $296,500 to develop a low-cost, disposable point-of-care device for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2, by detecting viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) in saliva, with results in under 5 minutes
  • Metabolic Insights Inc. is receiving $300,000 to adapt an existing device that detects insulin levels in saliva. The new device will detect the presence of the viral protein of SARS-CoV-2 in a small sample of saliva, with results within 15 minutes
  • Nicoya Lifesciences Inc. is receiving $299,190 to develop a rapid, low-cost, easy-to-use device, using ELISA, a proven testing technique. This single-use disposable device will detect the SARS-CoV-2 viral protein in a saliva sample, providing lab-quality results in less than 20 minutes

The saliva of an infected individual contains the COVID‑19 virus. A saliva test is less invasive and is therefore preferred over a nasopharyngeal swab or the taking of a blood sample. These companies have proposed new, innovative methods to detect the presence of the COVID‑19 virus in saliva.

In response to phase 1 of the challenge, these companies will bring their expertise and R&D capabilities to prove feasibility of their solution for a rapid, single-use testing kit that will diagnose individuals affected by COVID‑19 within 3 days of the start of their symptoms using a sample, other than a nasopharyngeal swab. If successful with phase 1 of the challenge, these companies could each receive up to $2M to develop a prototype of their proposed solution.