XPrize Puts Up $5 Million to Jumpstart Faster, Cheaper COVID-19 Tests

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.

XPrize Puts Up $5 Million to Jumpstart Faster, Cheaper COVID-19 Tests

A $5 million rapid COVID-19 testing competition launched Tuesday by the Culver-City based XPRIZE Competition seeks to make tests cheaper and faster.

Long wait times for test results have hampered efforts across the country to contain coronavirus. As labs have fallen behind in some parts of the country, wait times have stretched into days and even weeks — and that's meant potentially infectious patients who haven't yet gotten their results aren't self-isolating.


"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 CEO of XPRIZE, Anousheh Ansari in announcing the competition. "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."

XPRIZE is partnering with OpenCovidScreen to spur production of a low-cost, easy-to-use and fast-result test. The organization hopes it will allow more people to be tested, and bring them closer to safely returning to their jobs and schools.

The competition encourages high school students, university groups, innovators and startups to form teams and work on a solution for the lack of testing capacity. It allows contestants to enter into one of four different categories such as: At Home, Point-of-Care, Distributed Lab, or High-Throughput Lab.

Teams have until August 31st to enter the competition and just 6 months to develop the test with certain requirements. The test must have a maximum turnaround time of 12 hours and cannot cost more than $15.

Blue Shield of California, Cambia Health Solutions, Health Care Service Corporation, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation, Horizon Healthcare Services, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, The Anthem Foundation and Anthem Inc. are among the companies backing the effort.

And companies including Google, Amazon, Ilumina, Ancestry, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Exact Science, Centerview Partners, Twist Bioscience, Opentrons, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and Testing For America will help support contestants' need for technology and labs.

Five winners will share $5 million and can go on to benefit from The Covid Apollo Project's $50 million fund that aims to bring new testing methods to the market.

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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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