Initial round includes potential “game-changing” innovation for diagnostics, therapeutics, and mitigation
CITRUS | May 13, 2020

BERKELEY, May 13, 2020 – The first 25 teams awarded seed funding for technology projects designed to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis were announced today by CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, a multicampus research institute of the University of California, headquartered at UC Berkeley. Within days of the application deadline, a $1.6 million matching challenge from an anonymous donor expanded potential funding exponentially, increasing the number of projects that can be awarded.

Rapid-cycle ventilators; next-gen face masks; new algorithms for contact tracing and advance prediction; a genome browser to integrate molecular-level genetic information to accelerate research; and a portable, point-of-care rapid-testing device the size of a credit card are some of the potential “game-changers” among the 97 proposals received. Interdisciplinary projects covered many aspects of the pandemic’s impact, from testing, treatment, and transmission to genomics and virology, policy and privacy.

See the full list of 25 projects here.

Projects were funded at an average of $50,000 each, and selected with an eye towards cost, scalability, and impact. All are centered in one of four CITRIS-affiliated UC campuses: UC Berkeley, UC Davis (including UC Davis Health), UC Merced, and UC Santa Cruz. Projects are designed to show research results within three to six months.

“This amazing response from the research community and our generous donor will greatly accelerate the innovation, ingenuity, and public service of the University of California,” said CITRIS Director Costas Spanos, also a UC Berkeley faculty member in electrical engineering and computer science. “We are immensely grateful and welcome additional partners to further expand our efforts to address the pandemic.”

“We are all united in the vision that innovation can steer us not back to where we were, but to a stronger, more resilient health care system going forward,” said CITRIS Health Faculty Director Tom Nesbitt, senior advisor to UC Davis Health executive leadership and co-director of the Healthy Aging in a Digital World Initiative. Nesbitt is also a member of the University of California COVID-19 Task Force.

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