LA Tech Updates: XPrize Offers Up $1.8M for Rapid Covid-19 Detection with CT Scans

Leslie Ignacio

Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.

LA Tech Updates: XPrize Offers Up $1.8M for Rapid Covid-19 Detection with CT Scans

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  • XPRIZE offers $1.5 grand prize to find better way to detect Covid-19 using CT scans

          XPRIZE offers $1.5 million for rapid Covid-19 detection via CT Scan

          media.defense.gov

          XPRIZE is offering a $1.5 million prize for the researchers that can provide the best protocol to rapidly detect COVID-19 with a CT scan, even in asymptomatic patients.

          The contest is part of the Culver-City based foundation's Pandemic Alliance created to hold competitions to fight coronavirus including one that called for fast and cheap Covid testing.

          CT scans - which provide a more detailed image inside the body than X-rays - are used to detect and monitor disease. The group hopes that it will provide a faster way to find early and even asymptomatic cases of the virus.

          "We can accelerate critical response efforts and identify breakthrough solutions using CT scans for earlier detection," said Amir Banifatemi, chief innovation and growth officer at XPRIZE in a statement. "Facing the COVID-19 crisis is proving to be one of the world's most critical challenges, as we currently rely on slow and invasive testing methods."

          The prize is offered in partnership with the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).

          The teams wanting to participate will have until November 1st to sign up and have until November 15th as part of phase two to make any improvements after feedback. They will be tested on their COVID-19 detection, diagnosis, prediction and management of the treatment and will be selected based on which team has the greatest impact.

          "We need aggressive and bold actions to reduce transmission of COVID-19 to get ahead of the outbreak so that it is stopped. It will take the global community to accelerate how we meet these challenges," said Yaneer Bar-Yam, president and founder of the New England Complex Systems Institute in the announcing the contest.

          The judging phase and winners of the grand prize will be announced in January of 2021 with an additional $300,000 in bonus prizes. The total purse is $1.8 million.

          Although radiology protocols often take years to develop the collaborative hopes this competition will help radiologists have rapid results.

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          Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

          Christian Hetrick

          Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

          Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

          When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

          The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

          Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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          Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

          Christian Hetrick

          Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

          Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

          LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

          The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

          From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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          PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

          Jamie Williams
          ­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
          Jason Wise holding wine glass
          Image courtesy of Jason Wise

          Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

          As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

          On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

          The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

          “With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

          …Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

          For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

          “Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

          But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

          So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

          “Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

          Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

          dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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