October 6, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration announces $3.6 million program to accelerate development of Coronavirus testing solutions

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to administer new Accelerating Coronavirus Testing Solutions Program to develop rapid, innovative ‘at-home’ or point-of-care testing methods and mitigate current supply chain barriers

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new $3.6 million funding initiative to increase testing capacity and address gaps that currently exist in coronavirus testing. The Accelerating Coronavirus Testing Solutions (A.C.T.S.) Program, designed and administered by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), will fund projects focused on two core areas: one, accelerating the development of at-home or point-of-care testing methods that are simpler and more rapid, and two, new and innovative solutions that address existing supply chain barriers. The MLSC’s Request for Proposals is open to for-profit companies and not-for-profit institutions; teams working on solutions that provide low-cost, surveillance testing technology that can be deployed independent of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) or medical personnel are encouraged to apply.

While Massachusetts has had a number of successes in supporting manufacturing through the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT), this program seeks to further refine the focus on remaining supply chain bottlenecks.  From identifying ways to increase manufacturing capacity, to the development of specialized materials, this program will support critical areas of need to allow labs across the Commonwealth to fully utilize and leverage their existing high throughput testing platforms.

An application should provide solutions that significantly increase testing capacity, and may address a well-defined issue beyond an identified priority area, but must articulate the positive impact on coronavirus testing. The MLSC with assistance from an advisory panel will evaluate proposals based on an effort’s ability to address and execute in a defined priority area; time to patient and/or implementation success, ability to leverage additional resources (e.g. funding, supplies, equipment) of the Massachusetts life sciences industry cluster; probability of scaling in Massachusetts; and potential to drive economic development and contribute to larger ecosystem in the Commonwealth.

The MLSC will accept applications on a rolling basis with evaluations taking place in two-week cycles. Applications for the first cycle will close on October 16, 2020 at noon EST. Subsequent cycles will close every two weeks after that point.

In recent months, the MLSC has been proud to be part of the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, including contributing funding and resources to the M-ERT and the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness. These recent contributions are in addition to the Center’s continued administration of various programs and other initiatives to support the life sciences sector. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLSC’s Board of Directors authorized an expenditure of $5 million from the Center’s Investment Fund and $5 million from its Capital Fund to support academic and/ or industry partners engaged in responding to the imminent public health threat. While the A.C.T.S. program is currently capitalized with $3.6 million, the MLSC is prepared to deploy additional funds to support A.C.T.S. and other efforts part of the Commonwealth’s broader response.