The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and RICOVR Healthcare Inc, a US-based rapid diagnostics platform company, won the ‘Ignition Grants’ Award from the US India Science and Technology Endowment Fund (USISTEF) for developing a new point-of-care COVID-19 antigen test that can provide results in five minutes using saliva.
USISTEF, a joint fund established by the US and India to promote innovation through science and technology, announced the results after a rigorous binational review process of over 400 proposals. The Ricovr-IIT Madras team was selected for its out-of-the-box, innovative idea to address the COVID-19 challenge.
Highlighting the unique aspects of this collaboration, Dr Himanshu Bhatia, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RICOVR Healthcare Inc, said, “Our scientific approach and methodical steps continue to propel RICOVR in the right direction. With this recognition and partnership, we are confident we can achieve better outcomes and a robust testing platform for COVID detection.”
The RICOVR and IIT Madras collaboration is intended to support a successful joint US-India entrepreneurial initiative devoted to battle COVID-19. It focuses on developing and implementing new technologies and systems to satisfy unmet rapid and reliable testing needs.
Elaborating the technology behind this COVID-19 Diagnostic Device, Dr VV Raghavendra Sai, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, said, “This technology is differentiated from the other molecular and antibody-based test in that it can detect the presence of active viral particles on the spot without needing a specialised apparatus. Our lab has already demonstrated and shown the capability of our technology in other diagnostics fields.”
The USISTEF had called for proposals under the category of ‘COVID-19 Ignition Grants’ in April 2020. The intent was to support promising joint US-India entrepreneurial initiatives that address the development and implementation of new technologies, tools, and systems to address COVID-19 related challenges.
“The US Government is pleased to partner with the Government of India's Department of Science and Technology to provide initial financing to almost a dozen promising technologies, chosen from over 400 proposals, which seek to help the world in its global fight against COVID-19. This is just one area where American and Indian ingenuity is working together to serve our peoples and the broader international community,” US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster said.