press release
Published: 27 May 2020

Commercial partners join forces with three universities to develop rapid COVID-19 test kit

By Natasha Meredith

A new COVID -19 test kit, which can detect the presence of the virus in six different individuals simultaneously in under 30 minutes, is one step closer to coming to market following a partnership deal with leading electronic, robotics and software companies.

Brunel University London, together with Lancaster University and the University of Surrey have joined forces with GB Electronics (UK) Ltd, Inovo Robotics and Unique Secure to develop an inexpensive, rapid, diagnostic test kit that can inform people if they have COVID-19 in under 30 minutes and make it widely available.

The new partnership deal will bring together industry and academic experts in the fields of electronic and software engineering, diagnostics, virology, robotics and artificial intelligence to fast track the development of a new COVID-19 testing kit.

It is envisaged that the portable testing device, which can carry out six highly accurate tests every 30 minutes, can be used in areas with large concentrations of people, such as care homes, sizeable employers and airports, to quickly determine if an individual has the virus. The results from the current virus detection tests normally take several hours to process.

The inexpensive nature of the portable testing kit will make testing for COVID-19 more accessible in developing countries, in which remote communities may not have easy immediate access to high quality medical facilities.

Clinical tests in three NHS hospitals will begin shortly to validate the performance of the SARS-CoV-2 test kit.

Professor Wamadeva Balachandran from Brunel University London said: “There remains an urgent need to develop testing for COVID-19 which is quick and inexpensive. This will enable those who test positive to self-isolate as quickly as possible, helping to reduce the spread of the virus.

“I am delighted that GB Electronics, Inovo Robotics and Unique Secure have joined us on this exciting project, their expertise will help accelerate the development of this test on a mass scale to minimise loss of lives.” 

Mark Bullen, Managing Director at GB Electronics, said: “GBE is very proud and excited to be part of this innovative collaborative team project to develop an essential point of care rapid testing device in the fight against COVID-19. The opportunity to utilise our electronic product design and manufacturing expertise was something my team jumped at; using our engineering skills to help make a vital contribution during the Coronavirus Pandemic by dramatically increasing the availability of rapid and safe testing.

“Leveraging our previous experience in healthcare, medical and IoT, coupled with working with such a strong collaborative team of Universities and Industrial Partners, will ensure the successful launch of this diagnostic testing product.”

David Rimer, CEO at Unique Secure, said: “We are extremely proud to have been chosen to collaborate on this critical project and be the company chosen to deliver the solution so pertinent for the new emerging world we all now live in. Unique Secure’s solid experience in delivering innovation through technology development will ensure that this rapid point-of care diagnostic kit is made available to those facilities that most need it.”

Henry Woods, co-founder of Inovo Robotics, said:  “We are very pleased to be involved in this important work with the three Universities. Many vulnerable people around the world have had limited or no access to fast Covid-19 virus testing during the pandemic, we see the potential to make a real difference in limiting the spread of the virus through this technology. We will be using our commercial experience in electronics design and manufacturing to bring a robust and scalable product to market as quickly as possible. We also intend to lever our expertise in robotics and automation to further help with sample processing and handling in the future. This would increase throughput further while removing operators from the hazard of potential infection - a key technology adapting our ways of working to live with CV-19 in the long term.”

Media Contacts

Natasha Meredith
Media Officer (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences)
Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380

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