- $150,000 funding to manufacture new virus screening technology locally
- Potential to provide rapid, large-scale testing for viruses such as COVID-19
- Local start-up company behind new technology, working in partnership with leading WA research institutions
Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly today announced that the McGowan Government would invest $150,000 from the New Industries Fund towards the immediate establishment of a manufacturing facility for the Avicena rapid virus testing machine.
Western Australian start-up Avicena Systems is behind the innovative testing technology which uses saliva samples and has the potential to deliver a rapid alternative to the current COVID screening system. Initially designed to test for COVID-19, the testing technology also supports a range of other detection test kits for pathogens such as dengue fever, tuberculosis and malaria.
The local start-up received $500,000 in innovation funding from the McGowan Government through the Department of Health in October to pilot the technology.
The new technology supports rapid, low-cost and large-scale viral screening, which combines a range of existing technologies with locally developed custom hardware and system control software.
The platform is designed to provide portable, scalable screening, with rapid throughput that would enable the processing of up to 5,000 samples per hour.
The system has the potential to provide population-scale background screening in virus outbreak zones and rapid, high-throughput testing for major sporting events and high traffic zones such as airport terminals.
Avicena has recently sold two machines in Hungary and is in the process of a sale to the Basque Government in Spain, and has had interest from several other countries including the UK and India.
Comments attributed to Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly:
"The McGowan Government is committed to backing local innovation that has the potential to improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the WA community.
"Western Australian technology has the potential to change the approach to managing a broad range of viruses including COVID-19, and it's vital we secure its manufacture in the State to create local jobs.
"Avicena's technology has the potential to screen large groups of people quickly, and play a key role in monitoring and management of COVID-19 and other viruses going forward."
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"Western Australia's robust COVID-19 testing regime has been a significant factor in the State having no community transmission for more than nine months.
"Regardless of the imminent rollout of a vaccine, testing will remain a vital part of controlling COVID-19 and keeping Western Australians safe - so we are always looking at new ideas and innovations to help us deal with COVID-19.
"The ability to screen large groups of people very quickly and accurately could be an important part of that future."
Innovation and ICT Minister's office - 6552 6100
Health Minister's office - 6552 6500