BARDA's Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) today expanded the Early Notification to Act, Control, and Treat (ENACT) program to drive disruptive technologies needed to save lives in future public health emergencies. To solicit potential partners, DRIVe opened two new areas of interest (AOI) under the EZ Broad Agency Announcement (EZ-BAA) solicitation: Digital Health Tools for Pandemic Preparedness and Bringing Laboratory Testing to the Home.
In 2018, DRIVe explored early detection of respiratory infections with the launch of ENACT, partnering with innovators to develop disruptive technologies that could detect infection and enable early intervention prior to symptom onset. These technologies included both biophysical and digital health solutions coupled with data analytics approaches to assess early infection status of an individual as well as within a population. To date, the ENACT program has invested $10.3 million into 12 partnerships with small and large businesses as well as academic partners, leveraged by a partner cost-share of almost $5 million.
While influenza had been a primary use case for technologies in development under ENACT’s original portfolio, as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, many partners pivoted their platforms, demonstrating that these tools could be powerfully positioned to address a variety of respiratory outbreaks. Pre-symptomatic detection, one of the core areas of focus for ENACT, has become more broadly accepted as critical to mitigating COVID-19 especially due to asymptomatic transmission.
To continue pursuing new frontiers, DRIVe is transitioning ENACT to focus on two new areas of promise: developing digital health tools for pandemic preparedness and bringing laboratory testing into the home.
With ”Digital Health Tools for Pandemic Preparedness,” DRIVe is seeking to develop a suite of purely digital solutions (e.g., smartphone applications or web-based platforms) that can serve as the first line of defense and also augment existing medical countermeasures (MCMs) in a future outbreak. While traditional medical devices take time to design, manufacture, and roll-out, digital solutions have the potential for almost immediate scalability, which is critical in the early days of an emergency. DRIVe is seeking partnerships to aid pandemic prediction and preparedness, infection detection, and preventive health through innovative, effective, and broadly available tools.
With “Bringing Laboratory Testing to the Home,” DRIVe is seeking disruptive platform technologies to serve as reliable alternatives to traditional central laboratory testing. During COVID-19, the U.S. experienced a surge in telemedicine utilization, yet most routine testing still required visits to an office, clinic, or lab. At-home testing platforms could enhance the capabilities of telemedicine by enabling data-driven diagnosis by healthcare providers without requiring sample shipping or travel to a sample collection site. If successful, a full suite of at-home testing could revolutionize diagnostics, chronic disease management, and even clinical research, providing better access to care and a more disaster-resilient health care system. DRIVe is seeking proposals for multiplexed biochemical assays that can be performed at home, without requiring special training or access to a full laboratory.
Abstracts may be submitted until 5:00 PM ET on February 3, 2023. For additional information, see solicitation AOIs #8: Bringing Laboratory Testing to the Home and #9: Digital Health Tools for Pandemic Preparedness (PDF - 286KB) in the Special Instructions 014 Issuance of the EZ-BAA (BAA-20-100-SOL-0002), and visit drive.hhs.gov/partner.html.
The EZ-BAA was established by BARDA's Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) to streamline the application process for the review of transformative products and technologies to protect Americans from health security threats. Since its inception, BARDA DRIVe's EZ-BAA solicitation has averaged more than one abstract submission per day while active, with awards made in as few as 30 days. The EZ-BAA has helped transform the solicitation process and provides innovators, entrepreneurs, and organizations with a simplified and rapid mechanism to propose ideas to the U.S. government. The application process is both business-friendly and easy to follow.