To assist in its mission to develop the next generation of HIV self-test for resource-poor countries, Sydney-based HealthTech startup Atomo Diagnostics has been awarded a $3.6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The startup has created an integrated HIV test called AtomoRapid HIV, a digital interface, an all in one bluetooth-enabled device, as well as a malaria testing kit.
The self-test kit delivered under the grant will be much cheaper than what which Atomo has already developed for sale in developed countries. The AtomoRapid HIV kit’s manufacturing partner IDE also is Sydney-based, although it oversees global supply chain for the diagnostic strips that are made in South Africa.
The rapid diagnostic test for HIV virus is designed to enable people in developing countries to test themselves. By developing an affordable, reliable and simple HIV self-test, Atomo and the Foundation believe that patient populations (that do not use existing facilities-based testing services) are likely to be tested for the virus— especially those at high risk of HIV infection which requires more frequent testing.
The grant money will be used to develop and launch an HIV self-test that meets the needs of national public health systems and individual self-test users in countries most affected by the disease and also, involves liaising with their public health systems, researchers, health workers and end users. Chief Executive of Atomo, John Kelly remarks,
This grant is an endorsement of our innovative user-friendly approach to testing and our commitment to making a positive impact on global health. This grant from the Gates Foundation is an important milestone for Atomo.
The grant comes shortly after $4.5 million in equity funding raised by the startup in August from investors including the Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF) and a $7.8 million loan by GHIF earlier this year.
GHIF owns 8.4 percent of Atomo, and the largest shareholders remain the founding team led by Chief Executive John Kelly, Lang Walker of Walker Group and Allan Moss of Macquarie Bank.
Self-testing will support the United Nations’ AIDS goal which aims to have 90 percent of HIV-positive people know their status by 2020. In line with this goal, Atomo and the Gates’ foundation have agreed on a target of 20 million kits to be produced over the next three years.