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Press Release

NYCEDC Selects Columbia University as a Winner for the City’s Rapid Test Competition

Mar 01 2021
NYCEDC Selects Columbia University as a Rapid Test Competition Winner

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) selected Columbia University as the first winner of the Rapid Testing Innovation Competition (RTIC), which was launched to support the development of reliable and inexpensive tests for COVID-19. NYCEDC will award Columbia University $164,000 to support evaluation studies to accelerate the deployment of its Cov-SCAN rapid test to help the City reopen safely. The rapid test competition builds on the NYC Test & Trace Corps and the Administration’s long-term recovery agenda, which places public health at the center of the City’s economic recovery.

In Fall 2020, NYCEDC launched the RTIC to accelerate the development and deployment of point-of-care and over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that deliver results in minutes, are easy to use, affordable, and can be processed in a variety of non-medical settings. Selected respondents may have the opportunity to partner with the City to leverage resources including advanced purchasing, accessing expertise at health agencies, connections with corporate partners, and use of City property for manufacturing or research and development. Diagnostic test manufacturers, suppliers, developers, and academics are still encouraged to submit proposals by March 3, 2021 to advance the City’s overall testing strategy.

The rapid COVID-19 test, developed by David Ho, MD, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, is designed to identify people who are infectious, even if they do not have symptoms. The user mixes a nasal swab with a liquid buffer applied to a paper test strip, similar to a home pregnancy test kit. If antibodies embedded in the strip detect the virus a colored line will appear 15-20 minutes later.

"The swift and innovative response of our medical and entrepreneurial communities to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the very best of New York City ingenuity," said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. "As the first winner of NYCEDC's Rapid Testing Innovation Competition, Columbia University's rapid testing studies offer a powerful tool that will enable the City to reopen faster and safer."

“Citywide availability of rapid and accurate testing is an essential tool in our fight against COVID-19. Through this competition, we hope to find a rapid test that can be used widely to facilitate economic reopening, especially in communities that need it most,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “We’re thrilled entrepreneurs and scientists like Dr. Ho are innovating testing solutions to ensure New York City's economy bounces back stronger, fairer, and healthier."

“If used frequently, and particularly close to the time a person enters a crowded place, such testing would be a very powerful way to prevent the spread of the virus from people who do not have symptoms and do not know they are infectious,” said David Ho, MD, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “As New York and other cities work to re-open their economy, this would be a tremendously valuable tool from a public health standpoint as well as from an economic standpoint.”

"New York City being a global leader in pandemic response requires strong testing capabilities to combat community spread," said City Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. We applaud the Economic Development Corporation for selecting Columbia University to develop and deploy its Cov-SCAN rapid test."

This announcement builds on the City’s role as a leader in pandemic response, including a vision to create a local institution, tentatively called the Pandemic Response Institute (PRI), that will serve as a hub to prepare for and respond to future health emergencies in New York City. In the past year, NYCEDC established local production of Personal Protective Equipment resulting in 8.4 million face shields, 4.2 million hospital gowns, and breathing assistance machines to assist NYC healthcare workers. NYCEDC partnered with NYC-based companies and Albert Einstein College of Medicine to manufacture and assemble over 1 million FDA-compliant COVID-19 testing kits. NYCEDC also established the Pandemic Response Lab, a facility that processes more than 30,000 COVID-19 tests per day, within 24-48 hours for NYC Health + Hospitals.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.