Overview

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is seeking proposals for innovative ‘Point of Care’ (PoC) diagnostics technologies that provide information to enable clinicians to earlier diagnose and ultimately treat individuals exposed to chemical and biological hazards.

Scope

At present, there is a limited diagnostic capability within overseas theatres of operations. Complicated multiplex technologies, capable of detailed analysis of patient samples, are generally found at locations where infrastructure is good and sufficient expertise is situated to analyse and interpret complex data outputs. Simpler technologies may be found closer to the frontline; however, while they may work in demanding austere environments, their output is limited in terms of sensitivity or specificity, as well as the diversity of potential targets they can detect.

It is anticipated that new PoC diagnostic devices applicable for this call will support one or more of the following requirements:

  • minimal or no requirement for sample preparation steps for complex clinical samples; (blood, serum, plasma, saliva etc)
  • provide a rapid (less than 1 hour) time to answer, to facilitate delivery of timely information to clinicians to inform treatment options
  • suitable for, or can be adapted for, use by non-expert users; i.e. minimal manual steps required for that user to perform the assay and output of easily interpretable results
  • provide high confidence information outputs with a minimal level of false positives and negatives; i.e. high levels of specificity and sensitivity for detection of analytes of interest from complex clinical samples
  • high levels of equipment reliability in resource limited settings, which may include high and low ambient temperatures
  • suitable for, or can be adapted to use with, minimal reliability on the presence of other associated lab infrastructure (to include air conditioning, mains power) and/or a large array of additional standard laboratory equipment (such as centrifuges, refrigerators and freezers)
  • suitable for, or can be adapted for, the detection of multiple analytes simultaneously
  • flexible and adaptable to integration of new assays for additional analytes to facilitate identification of a broad spectrum of agents
  • minimal equipment footprint; equipment is currently or can be made portable by an individual with minimal additional burden to that individual

TRL Levels

Technologies appropriate for this call at Phase 1 could currently exist at a range of TRLs up to TRL 6. Where lower TRL options (TRL 1-2) which offer innovative methodologies of detection are proposed, the supplier should aim to demonstrate proof-of-concept of detection of the chosen model agent in a complex sample background as a minimum. Where more established, higher TRL platforms (TRL 3-6) are proposed, suppliers should aim to demonstrate ease of adaptation of the current platform to detect the model analytes proposed.

It is anticipated that by the end of Phase 1 all technologies will have demonstrated a minimum of TRL of 3.

Future phases of work will aim to further raise the TRL technologies towards a higher TRL. Funding is provisionally available to achieve a minimum of TRL 4 by the end of the Phase 2.

Funding Costs

A total of £500k is expected to fund 3 to 5 proposals.

The value of proposals should range from £50k to £150k. If successful, contracts will be awarded for a duration of up to 12 months (although proposals of shorter duration are also valid).

Additional funding for further phases to increase the TRL is potentially available. Any further phases will be open to applications from all suppliers and not just those that submitted successful Phase bids.

Exclusions

For this competition DASA are not interested in proposals that:

  • constitute consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews which just summarise the existing literature without any view of future innovation (which therefore cannot be extended into Phase 2)
  • do not offer significant benefit to defence and security capability
  • are an identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or MOD without modification
  • offer demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no experimental development (unless applied in a novel way to the challenge)
  • offer no real long-term prospect of integration into defence and security capabilities
  • offer no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions