Jul 28 2020

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XPRIZE, OpenCovidScreen and a coalition of partners call on the global community to develop frequent, fast-turnaround, cheap, and easy-to-use screening tests to catch Covid-19 occurrences before they become outbreaks.

LOS ANGELES (July 28, 2020) -- XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, in collaboration with OpenCovidScreen, a non-profit founded by scientists and business leaders to drive needed innovation through “Open Science”, today launched the $5 million XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing competition to accelerate the development of high-quality Covid-19 testing that is low cost, easy to use, and fast-turnaround, enabling frequent testing.

The XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing competition will call on the world’s brightest, most innovative minds to develop new, low-cost testing solutions that range from testing devices with 15-minute results to distributed lab testing methods with “next morning” results. Frequent, fast-turnaround, easy-to-use testing enables effective data-driven tracing and isolating strategies. Most currently available Covid-19 tests are expensive, slow, invasive, and are supply-chain limited. XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing aims to meet the need to scale testing capabilities by 100-times past our current standard, the level of increase needed to more safely return to everyday activities.

“Competition is the key to innovation and XPRIZE is seizing this moment to challenge the best and brightest minds around the world to develop COVID-19 testing that is high-quality, affordable and accessible,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. “I look forward to seeing the breakthroughs that arise from this challenge and the countless lives that will be saved as a result.”

To amplify impact, a $50 million “COVID Apollo Project” led by experienced life sciences investors and company builders – including RA Capital, Bain Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Redmile Group, and Samsara Biocapital – will work with OpenCovidScreen, the XPRIZE community, and beyond to accelerate the best ideas, technologies, and innovations to market and scale them.

“Fast, affordable, and accessible testing is crucial to containing the Covid-19 pandemic and safely reopening schools, businesses and other vital institutions around the world,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing is inspiring the best entrepreneurial and scientific teams to come together to work towards rapid, affordable Covid-19 testing at scale, and ultimately, getting the world up and running again.”

Teams can compete in one of the following four categories: At Home, Point-of-Care, Distributed Lab, or High-Throughput Lab. To ensure supply chain diverse solutions, entries are encouraged in a variety of underlying testing approaches (PCR, Isothermal/LAMP/RPA, CRISPR, Antigen-detection, Next Generation Sequencing, and other technologies). Entries will be judged on overall innovation of solution, appropriate performance, turnaround time, scaling properties and frequency enabled, ease-of-use and cost of solution. 

“Any strategy to contain the virus is completely reliant on frequent, fast and reliable testing, but testing supply chains are currently stretched to the limit. When coupled with accelerating demand, test result turnaround times will slow even further unless new solutions are brought to the table,” said Amir Banifatemi, chief innovation and growth officer at XPRIZE and lead of the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance. 

“We’re excited to collaborate with XPRIZE and a committed group of partners who want to make a difference by innovating and building the Covid testing capability we need to safely return to work and school. We need solutions that are frequent, fast turnaround, cheap, and easy (“FFCE”), and that are supply chain diverse. There is near infinite need and demand at the right price. We need screening testing capabilities 100-times greater than our current status to return our economy and society to normal function,” said Jeff Huber, President & Co-Founder of OpenCovidScreen.

Seven major national and regional health plans are collaborating as founding partners of XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing: Blue Shield of California, Cambia Health Solutions, Inc, Health Care Service Corporation, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation, Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. (NJ), BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. The Anthem Foundation and Anthem, Inc., serve as the Founding Anchor Partners. Supporting partners include leading healthcare, laboratory and technology companies: Google, Amazon, Ilumina, Ancestry, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Exact Sciences, Centerview Partners, Twist Bioscience, Opentrons, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and Testing For America.

“Addressing this pandemic requires strong collaboration across multiple industries and disciplines: healthcare, technology and science are coming together in this unique competition” said Mariya Filipova, Vice President of Innovation at Anthem. 

“At Anthem, we are committed to improving the lives of those we serve as well as the health of our communities at large. To help deliver on this commitment, we are focused on advancing innovation inside and outside our organization to make healthcare simpler and more affordable. We are excited to work alongside so many other Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans as well as the other XPRIZE partners,” said Rajeev Ronanki, Chief Digital Officer at Anthem. 

Teams must register to join the competition by August 31, 2020. For more information, visit XPRIZE.org/covidtesting.



XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $10 Million Rainforest XPRIZE, the $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, the $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE and the $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling. For more information, visit xprize.org.


The XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance is a global coalition that combines the power of collaboration, competition, innovation, and radical thinking to accelerate solutions that can be applied to Covid-19 and future pandemics. For information about the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance and to join the fight, please visit covid19.xprize.org. 


OpenCovidScreen is a non-profit founded by scientists and business leaders committed to an “Open Science” model to drive needed innovation and help solve the critical unmet need for Covid-19 testing that is Frequent, Fast-turnaround, Cheap, and Easy, to enable safe Return-to-Work & School. For more information, visit OpenCovidScreen.org or @OpenCovidScreen on Twitter. Donations welcomed at OpenCollective.com/OpenCovidScreen


Anthem is a leading health benefits company dedicated to improving lives and communities, and making healthcare simpler. Through its affiliated companies, Anthem serves more than 108 million people, including more than 42 million within its family of health plans. We aim to be the most innovative, valuable and inclusive partner. For more information, please visit www.antheminc.com or follow @AnthemInc on Twitter. 


The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the organization’s commitment to improving lives and communities. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.


Covid Apollo Project aims to enable a safe and sustainable return to work and school by identifying, assembling, developing, and scaling the most promising Covid-19 diagnostic opportunities. Covid Apollo was organized and funded under the leadership of RA Capital, a prominent biotechnology-focused investment firm, in collaboration with Redmile, Samsara, Perceptive Advisors, and Bain Capital. All of these firms will contribute to evaluating and scaling up technologies that Covid Apollo will accelerate.