Accelerating Coronavirus Testing Solutions (A.C.T.S.)

Program Overview

By any measure, Massachusetts’ life sciences ecosystem is one of the most robust in the world. Whether you measure public or private investments, top research universities and academic medical centers, STEM education, R&D infrastructure, talent, or life science companies, Massachusetts leads the way in bringing healthcare innovations to patients. This life science community can positively and quickly continue to impact the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is in a unique position to accelerate this impact by identifying, supporting, and funding novel innovations and solutions for SARS-CoV-2 testing. The Center is soliciting proposals to improve testing solutions and address supply chain logistics bottlenecks during this critical time to ensure the safety of its constituents and the world.

This project call will leverage Massachusetts’ R & D capabilities and innovation infrastructure to accelerate the development of improved testing modalities and address supply chain logistical bottlenecks that hinder our ability to quickly and effectively combat and contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are no longer soliciting new applications for the A.C.T.S. program. We are working to evaluate funding availability and may reopen if additional funding is available.

Eligibility & Evaluation

Applicants can be Massachusetts-based for-profit companies or non-profit institutions, which includes research institutions, academic medical centers, and colleges and universities. Municipalities or other governmental entities are not eligible to apply.

The MLSC is requesting proposals to address the gaps that currently exist in SARS-CoV-2 testing. Projects funded under this grant may fall into one of the two priority response areas:

Development of Rapid, Innovative At-Home or Point-of-Care Testing Modalities: We aim to support testing innovations that are easier and quicker to perform and can be done by patients outside of a healthcare practitioner’s office.

  • Solutions that provide a low-cost, surveillance testing technology that can be deployed independently of CLIA approval or medical personnel oversight are encouraged. Solutions that cost less than $10 per test are of particular interest.
  • Solutions that will provide a low-cost test with greater than 75% sensitivity and ideally 95% specificity are encouraged.

Addressing Supply Chain Bottlenecks: Innovations or increased novel manufacturing capacity that can address the supply chain bottlenecks for existing platforms are encouraged to apply. The MLSC is aiming to support the development of novel technologies to address the lack of specialized plastic ware and development of generic reagents and supplies to allow labs across the Commonwealth to fully utilize and leverage their existing high throughput testing platforms. To the extent that applicants are proposing supply chain solutions to a closed system, which involves proprietary technology, applicants will need to demonstrate that they have taken into consideration the requirement for any necessary approvals from the manufacturer of the proprietary system.

An application may address a well-defined issue beyond the priority areas identified above must clearly articulate the positive impact on SARS-CoV-2 testing. Applicants are encouraged to provide solutions that significantly increase testing capacity across the Commonwealth.

Please see the RFP for full eligibility criteria.

We are no longer soliciting new applications for the A.C.T.S. program. We are working to evaluate funding availability and may reopen if additional funding is available.

Resources

RFP

A.C.T.S. Advisory Panel

Impact on the Ecosystem

To consider how we can return to everyday activities as safely as possible in the face of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we rapidly identify infected individuals. Curbing the pandemic relies on the implementation of Testing, Tracing, and Supported Isolation (TTSI) strategies.

Currently, the Commonwealth is largely dependent on PCR tests, which requires analysis of specimens in an offsite laboratory. The development of a low cost “at home” test or point of care test is critical to further scaling up rapid SARS-CoV-2 testing. Additionally, supply chain bottlenecks are emerging for molecular testing. A whitepaper from McKinsey and Company(1) identifies RNA extraction kit manufacturing and laboratory capacity as the main limiting factors to large-scale testing. In the short term, the authors encourage maximizing and expanding laboratory capacity and exploring alternative testing protocols for the longer term. Specifically, supply chain logistics around upstream sample collection and processing are limiting steps to the interoperability of sample processing. Increased universality of sample collection and processing can aid in the management of testing capacity. These represent significant challenges that need to be considered as novel tests and technologies are developed.

The need for more rapid, scalable tests, and solutions for addressing the supply chain logistics, especially in the cases of high-throughput machines with proprietary plastic ware and reagents, is critical as the Commonwealth considers how to continue to reopen as safely as possible.

(1) Behnam, Mohammad, et al. “COVID-19: Overcoming Supply Shortages for Diagnostic Testing.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 15 July 2020, www.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/covid-19-overcoming-supply-shortages-for-diagnostic-testing

Connect with us to Learn More

If you have any questions regarding the application process, e-mail: COVID@Masslifesciences.com.

COVID-19 Manufacturing Emergency Response Team Funding

Program Overview

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an urgent need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers on the front-lines of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response. There are immediate shortages of the equipment necessary to keep them safe from contagion while caring for our community. The Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT), as part of a coordinated response between academia, industry, and government, has provided this program as a way for manufacturers to request funding from the Commonwealth to support the expansion of their production capabilities to make PPE equipment.

Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) and Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a member of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, will administer $5.6 million in funds through the existing Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Institute (M2I2) program, while another $4 million is available through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Companies can apply through a simple form for grants ranging from $200,000 to $2 million that will allow them to establish or increase production. A review committee will process applications based on several criteria including production timeline and recommend grant awards.

For more information on adapting your business to produce PPE, continue to MassTech

Eligibility & Evaluation

Funding is for manufacturers and contributing companies within Massachusetts to increase their in-state production of PPE and other critical equipment. Other applicants will be considered if they may contribute to the production of PPE and other equipment. If an applicant is not a manufacturer, the applicant must show how their request is directly tied to the production of manufacturing PPE and must show support from manufacturers for their project. This support can be agreements with manufactures or letters of support or other appropriate documentation. Applicants that do not show their direct impact and connection to manufacture are not likely to be funded through this process.

Please see the full list of Personal Protective Equipment and other equipment needed.

Funding requests for equipment, materials, supplies, workforce training and other needs related to expanding or pivoting manufacturing will be considered through this process. For workforce training grants the limit is $80,000 per company (i.e. 40 workers).

This application is open immediately and will remain open until further notice. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and evaluated weekly by the review committee.

View the full list of eligibility requirements.

Resources

M-ERT Funding Application

Information on the PPE needed, Eligibility, Type of Funding, Requirements, and Review Criteria

Information on adapting your business to produce PPE

Information on donating or selling PPE

Information for health professionals interested in volunteering

FAQs on Shortages of Surgical Masks and Gowns

Massachusetts Emergency Response Team Mission & Background

M-ERT’s mission is to mobilize, organize, and operationalize critical path work streams necessary for Massachusetts manufacturers to pivot their operations to produce needed materials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The leaders of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative including the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development and AccuRounds established the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team to assist in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in coordination with the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Response Command Center, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. With the support and collaboration from partners at MassTech, AccuRounds, AFFOA , MIT, MIT Lincoln Labs, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Commonwealth Corporation, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, and multiple industry partners, we can address the current manufacturing supply chain issues our Commonwealth and nation is facing.  M-ERT will work to address:

  • Understanding what PPE and COVID-19 related materials are of highest priority to produce;
  • Regulatory compliance;
  • What specifications and testing are necessary; and
  • Sharing design and CAD files, along with supporting manufacturers who can pivot their operations.

For questions please email: M-ERT@masstech.org.